Tanzania: Mobile Money Agents to Help Tanzania Up Banking

 

CATHREEN  MAENDAENDA

EAST AFRICAN BUSINESS WEEK

 

Tanzania is expected to embark on utilizing the ubiquitous mobile money agents as conduits for opening and operating basic banking services and avoiding expenses over single dependence on branch network expansion.

The progress comes at a time as some of the mobile telecom operators have started easing ways to enable customers to access cash through mobile money interoperability.

Tigo Tanzania, the first initiator of mobile money interoperability said through the new system its customers would make mobile money transactions more efficient and effective.

"This would mean that all Tigo customers would be able to send and receive money using their Tigo Pesa wallets directly to or from the mobile money wallet of a family member or friend who holds another network SIM," Tigo's General Manager, Mr. Diego Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez added that his company is a customer-centric business.

"We are pushing hard for mobile money interoperability between all networks so that, ultimately, our customers have easier and safer access to their money."Speaking during the 16th Conference of Financial Institutions, the Governor of Bank of Tanzania (BoT), Prof Benno Ndulu said, BoT is finalizing guidelines for innovative operations that are meant to provide micro-financial institutions with a chance to increase their efficiency.

He said, they will reduce cost of doing business and create a smooth operational environment for the mobile payment system.

"Mobile money transfer system has a chance to bridge distances cost effectively and it is not mobile money alone, several other innovations have become part of the changing financial landscape in our country," he said.

Since mobile phone banking cuts across various regulatory domains including banking, telecommunications and payment systems, Ndulu said there is a need to put in place a consolidated framework that allow the regulators to adequately monitor the risk involved in the provision of such services.

"We at the central bank have always remained vigilant in monitoring these technological innovations to ensure that integrity of our financial system is maintained," he added.

He said that phone-based financial services bring huge prospect for a country like Tanzania, where more than 60% of the adult population has access to mobile phones, but only about 12% has bank accounts.

The governor cautioned that more needs to be done including broadening and deepening access and utilization of services offered by banks and other financial institutions to the underserved despite the fact that mobile financial payment services have made several strides.

However Ndulu said that the only challenge now reaches those in peripherals, who haven't accessed the banking services. So he has asked country's banking and financial sector to come up with a strategy that will make them reach people at the grassroots' level.Speaking on the same occasion, Dr Dorothe Singer a financial expert from the World Bank, said regardless of the recent financial sector growth in Africa, still there are millions of people who have no access to banking services, due to a number of factors including bureaucracy.

She called on banks and financial institutions to work on the challenges facing the sector and ensure that they reach people who are in the peripheral areas.

Regulations for mobile financial services in the country are expected to go into operation in January, next year, the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) governor has said.

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