Ivorians are favouring mobile banking over traditional bank accounts when it comes to payments, savings and money transfers. According to the World Bank, more people had mobile money accounts (24%) than had bank accounts (15%) in 2014. Even more impressive is that Côte d’Ivoire is the fifth highest in the world when it comes to mobile money account holders. The country follows Kenya (58%), Somalia (37%), Uganda (35%), and Tanzania (32%).
Providers and their offerings
2008 saw the launch of the country’s first mobile money service. Within three years, there were 2 million registered accounts of which 22% were active. In less than five years, mobile money has become one of the most popular means of transacting in Cote d’Ivoire. By 2013, mobile network operators (MNOs) CelPaid, Moov, MTN, orange, and Qash services had together registered close to 5 million mobile money accounts, 35% of which are active. This growth is especially impressive since there are only 9.6 million unique mobile subscribers in Côte d’Ivoire. The mobile market has 20.1 million GsM connections and a high degree of multi-simming (people using multiple sim cards). By 2015, of the 24 million mobile phone subscribers, 7.2 million have mobile money accounts, according to the Côte d’Ivoire Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ARTCI). In the first six months of 2015, revenue from withdrawals, transfers, and bill payments totalled $28 million.
Political unrest for a decade until 2010 caused the economy to suffer, causing banks to either shut down or lose customer trust. Among the other facts which drive the high number of unbanked citizens is a lack of access to banks in rural areas and the high fees charged by the various institutions.
These challenges are opening the door to mobile money. Mobile operators and the government are already collaborating to digitise school registration fees using mobile money. In 2015, 99% of secondary school fee payments were made digitally, 94% of which were via mobile money. Mobile money is also being used for local and international remittances. Mobile money is, on average, over 50% cheaper than using global money transfer operators, and is highly competitive for low-value transactions. Potential areas for further collaboration between the government and mobile money operators include social security contributions and disbursements, health insurance contributions and disbursements, digitisation of agricultural value chains and transportation payments. To take advantage of this gap in the market, the World Bank suggests that banks, including microcredit institutions, develop closer ties with their customers through innovations and partnerships, to reduce transaction fees. Another suggestion is to promote the creation of financial institutions other than commercial banks. For example, mobile phone companies could grant loans and use the mobile money transaction history of customers to give credit scores.
Choosing the right partner
To drive further financial inclusion in Côte d’Ivoire, there is a need for diversification of the financial system by extending the range of services carried out by mobile companies. By choosing a partner like Youtap, which offers a wide range of solutions, your organisation will have access to a variety of tools to develop a new business strategy with confidence.