Africa’s mobile money platforms 'maturing'

Mobile financial services sector across Africa has seen “encouraging levels of growth” to encompass savings and loans products, says a new report.

In the report it states that “loans are an important key to providing an incentive to save” and adds that the “proliferation of new (mobile money products in Africa) points towards “maturity of the mobile money ecosystem” in the region.

The report titled “Is Mobile Financial Services (MFS) in Africa reaching Maturity” was released by international advisory company specialising in mobile financial service platforms, Mondato.

Kenya’s Safaricom recently announced that it would be offering loans through its M-Shwari savings and loans product while 250,000 users reportedly registered for Vodacom Tanzania’s M-Pawa savings and loans product.

“Access to credit, savings, loans, and life’s necessities – and in 2015 that could even arguably include a smartphone – are the key to a positive progress assessment of whether the financial inclusion agenda is being achieved,” the report reads.

Econet Wireless, which has a controlling interest in Zimbabwe’s Steward Bank – already offers a mobile banking savings account through its mobile money platform, EcoCash. The platform also offers loans for qualifying subscribers.

Jeremy Ngunze, the chief executive officer of CBA Kenya, said M-Shwari customers wanted “a facility which would inherently instill in them the discipline to make medium term savings towards a specific goal.”

The rapid development of the continental mobile money scene is expected to help mobile money operators to entrench their presence and significance in the industry.

However, other experts say despite the rapid growth in mobile money in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Tanzania, mobile payment and banking platforms utilising telecommunications platforms have not significantly had success elsewhere across the continent.

“Not only does it potentially lay the foundations for further growth and recycling of digital funds, but it also represents the beginning of the realisation of the financial inclusion agenda, beyond P2P remittances and airtime top-ups,” Mondato said in its analysis.