Innovation key to mobile money growth

The future of mobile money in Africa lies in its ability to innovate and transcend beyond its current offerings, said Khaled Mikkawi, CEO of MTN Rwanda on Tuesday. He was speaking at AfricaCom 2012 in Cape Town.

Mikkawi said relationships with third party developers were important to enable and increase access to innovative financial services such as merchandise payments, online payments and insurance solutions.

A GSMA report on mobile money adoption shows that mobile money is Rwanda’s fastest growing telecommunication service. MTN Rwanda introduced the service in February 2010. To date, the service has more than 600 000 active users – the equivalent of 20% of MTN Rwanda’s mobile subscriber base.

Mikkawi said MTN Rwanda’s focus now is to grow the penetration of the service, particularly in geographically isolated areas. MTN Rwanda’s target is to have more than 50% of its subscriber base using the mobile money platform.

“Mobile money is a strategic service for MTN,” said Mikkawi. To improve its market penetration, Mikkawi said, in addition to fostering relationships with third party developers, MTN Rwanda would soon migrate mobile money to a new platform. “Among other benefits, this will enable us to integrate the MTN Mobile Money service with a charging system.”

Already, an increasing number of mobile money subscribers are using the service for non-airtime transactions. These include electricity purchases and bill payments.

Mikkawi said the increase in mobile money usage in Rwanda indicates growing confidence in the service.

“This is also illustrated by the increase in the value of transactions conducted via the platform. MTN Mobile Money transactions exceeded the US$400m mark at the end of the second quarter this year, of which USD$160m were cash-ins,” he said.

Driving the uptake is MTN Rwanda’s extensive network of more than 1 000 active agents – a figure that has grown steadily over the years.

Commenting on the growth potential of the mobile money market in Rwanda, Mikkawi said: “There are 14 000 villages in Rwanda and each one needs to be covered. Rwanda also has several medium-sized cities, which still lag behind. This makes them good ‘candidates’ for MTN Mobile Money campaigns.” 

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