By Nana Appiah Acquaye, Accra, Ghana
Mobile Money (MoMo) wallet holders currently with the four network communications companies operating Mobile Money services in the country have received notifications on their phones with regards to the payment of the first tranche of interest on their mobile wallet.
Thanks to the new Bank of Ghana’s Dedicated Electronic Money Issuers (DEMI) Guidelines, this allows banks to pay interest on cash flow from the mobile money platforms to the network operators, who in turn also pay out 80% of that interest to their mobile money customers. The guideline approves an interest level of between 1.5 per cent and 7 per cent to be paid on a wallet.
Most subscribers and agents contacted by Biztechafrica in Ghana‘s capital city, Accra confirmed the notification and payment of a certain amount of interest on their respective wallets.
Jibril Madaha told Biztechafrica: “I received a text notification from MTN telling me that I have earned 0.3 GHS from MTN Mobile Money as interest earned on my mobile wallet for period January 2016 to March 2016.”
Naana Akua Sarpomaa, who also received similar text messages, expressed excitement at this development and said it is worth it keeping her money now on her wallet for any transaction since at the end of the day, she is going to earn some interest.
Obeng Asare, a Mobile Money agent operating around Osu Danquah circle area in Accra, told Biztechafrica he believed that the implementation of the new BoG’s directive to pay interest on MoMo wallet is the step in the right direction. He said it would go a long way to encourage everyone to get onto the mobile money platform and that will also help create more jobs for the country’s teeming unemployed graduates.
It could be recalled that the central bank before the first week in September this year authorized telecommunications companies operating e-cash services on their platform to pay interest to their respective customers. According to central bank, interest earned during the first quarter of 2016 must be paid on 11th September 2016, while interest for the second quarter is paid on 18th September 2016. Interest distribution for quarters three and four will be communicated to customers in due course.
This development was hailed as good news and a big boost to electronic wallet transaction in the country by operators. The General Manager for MTN’s Mobile Financial Services, Mr. Eli Hini in a statement released in Accra has welcomed the call by the central bank and revealed how excited his outfit is about the move. “We are extremely excited that the Bank of Ghana has finally approved the payment of accrued interest on mobile money e-cash, MTN Ghana is committed to implementing innovative projects to bring about improvement in the lives of all Ghanaians,” he said.
“This new development in the mobile money sector is a major breakthrough that will enhance the value proposition of MTN Mobile Money Service. It will also enable us to foster better collaboration with partner banks that will lead to developing additional innovative products for the enhancement of the mobile financial sector in Ghana,” he added.
The Chief Executive Officer for Tigo Ghana, Ms. Roshi Motman, also applauded the new directive from the central bank and noted that it is the next step in the evolution of mobile money. “We are really excited to be announcing interest payments to our customers in Ghana. We have championed this before in other countries and have a lot of experience in interest distribution and payments. This is the next step in the evolution of mobile money.”
She added that Tigo would ontinue to leverage on technology to provide a world class financial service to Ghanaians especially the unbanked. To this end Tigo Cash is investing in building a resilient platform and also enhancing its products.
Recently the International Monetary Fund (IMF) IMF‘s Regional Economic Outlook on Sub Saharan Africa Report released in April 2016, dubbed Time for a Policy Reset noted under the heading Supporting Financial Development and Inclusion Through Mobile Money Payment and Banking Services the surge in mobile money in many sub-Sahara African countries and attributed the rapid increase to low transaction costs, growing innovations, and a strong increase in mobile phone subscriptions. It said that in 2014, the share of the population holding mobile bank accounts reached 11 percent in sub-Saharan Africa, almost twice as many in any other regions.
But the report also identified other factors that could impede the development of mobile financial services and it mentioned high costs of using electronic payment, especially for smaller transactions, a policy framework that requires intermediation via banks, and the lack of interoperability between providers.