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Submitted by Charles Niehaus on
Michael Mobile Money and Mobile Payments has to be the future, especially in emerging markets with few legacy systems but replicating mPesa will have it's challenges possibly primarily due to the catalyst required for changing behavior. mPesa arguably had the elections combined with Safaricom's market share which created a platform for exponential (and viral) adoption. I can comment on the SSA markets in your shortlist. Besides the straightforward analytics your team is possibly running such as comparing mobile phones to bank accounts and overlaying that with wallet providers or MNO's you should also look at the history of the markets, culture for change, strength or the regulators and appetite for actually making change. The game certainly is on in Africa and Kenya has set the pace, so my views/pro's/cons of the SSA markets in order of priority are: 1) Ghana - although a smaller market than Nigeria the regulator has demonstrated the need for financial inclusion through the implementation of the domestic card scheme, the vote is still out whether this has been a success and what the uptake has been as there has been a great deal of capacity duplication to existing infrastructure, with mobile money this would not be the case. Ghana is also a small enough and well regulated market with not too many unknown factors which could influence the final outcome 2) Nigeria - this has to be in the top 2 just purely due to the size. The regulator has started passing quite a few policies over the last few years and has quite a strong influence in the market - the test will be how they respond to some of the 16 Mobile licence holders who do not put something out before the end of April. The concern for Nigeria would be whether the market has the structure or patience to work with a World Bank project and whether you will actually be able to derive results which you can analyse. 3) Rwanda - although smaller than Ethiopia in population terms it's certainly a country that is trying to get on the map as relates to infrastructure and technology, the project will have to look very carefully at the culture here though as it has been a slow moving market in terms of financial services but has also been dominated by domestic banks, this may however change with the international banks from West and East Africa. The concern would however be whether there is a commercial business case at the bottom end of the pyramid. 4) Ethiopia - although it's the second largest in terms of population it may need a lot of change management to change behavior. Regulatory policies may also be a challenge (last time I was there international SMS's didn't work due to Telecoms ministry concerns), so on paper there is probably a large business case but one has to ensure the culture is aligned. I can't comment on Southern Sudan as that is an unknown market to most. I'm not sure if the list is confirmed but if possible would suggest adding Tanzania and Zambia to the initial review. Tanzania has 4 mobile wallet providers and is possibly set to prove a "classic" model of how mobile money and payments should or could work. Zambia is similar to Ghana in the sense of a stable, well structured market where a well structured project should work well. Hope that helps.