IMF: Africa leads way in mobile banking

Low income countries, especially in Africa, continue to lead the rest of the world in the take-up of mobile banking, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said. The Fund stated this in its, “2018 Financial Access Survey” released yesterday, adding that: “Mobile money accounts are more prevalent than bank accounts in low income economies.” According to the report: “The 2018 FAS suggests that low-income countries are leading the way in mobile money adoption. On average, the number of mobile money accounts in a low-income economy is more than twice the number of bank accounts per 1,000 adults.”

It, however, stated that while Africa continues to lead the mobile money revolution, other regions are not far behind, pointing out that in countries such as Bangladesh, Myanmar and Guyana, mobile money services are growing fast in terms of both the number of accounts and transactions.

The Fund attributed the uptake of mobile money in many Eastern and Western African economies to, “increased trust in mobile money, coupled with pent up demand for financial access.” The IMF stated that while stable and efficient financial intermediation is a function of trust, “ Trust in financial services providers can evaporate easily but it takes time to build,” adding that:

“This explains why, on average, various FAS mobile money account indicators show, on average, an exponential increase, 5 years after the services become available.” The FAS collects annual data on indicators tracking access to and use of financial products, such as deposit accounts, loans, and insurance policies. According to the IMF, the survey is collected through national central banks or financial regulators.