With only 15% of Senegal’s adults with access to a traditional bank account, the country has a long way to go before it reaches full financial inclusion. However Senegal is widely regarded as an innovation leader in Africa, so there is an existing robust FinTech eco-system in place that is well positioned to service the financial inclusion needs of the population. In 2016, the average number of access points in 2016 per 10,000 people was 3.8, jumping to 5.2 this year. Over 81% of financial access points belong to mobile network operators and, additionally, mobile money access points grew by 37% over the past year. All regions within Senegal experienced growth in mobile money hinting at the widespread impact mobile network operators are having throughout Senegal. Currently, the mobile penetration rate is 111%.
Providers and their offerings
Launched in 2008, Wari pioneered over-the-counter money transfer and bill payment services in Senegal. Orange Money arrived in 2010, Tigo Cash in 2014, and another major over-the-counter provider, Joni Joni, in 2013. Currently, Wari is in the middle of acquiring Tigo, a subsidiary of Millicom Group. The alliance of Wari’s vast network of agents and Tigo’s e-money wallet could give the low-income sector access to an account through which additional financial services like savings, credit and insurance could be offered, in partnership with financial institutions. The deal would give Wari the opportunity to expand its offering of digital financial services to those who are unbanked but have mobile phones. Regarding banking providers, Societe Generale stands out with the recent launch of their YUP mobile money solution. YUP is a solution for accessing a full range of transactional and financial services even without a bank account. Launched initially in Senegal and Ivory Coast, Societe General has set a target to open one million mobile money wallets in the next three years across sub-Saharan Africa.
Despite the many actors and digital offerings, Senegal hasn’t experienced massive development in digital financial services. The banks’ expertise is limited when it comes to serving low-income households in rural areas which represent 67% of the population. The imbalance between services offered and the needs of the rural population could be linked to limited market knowledge around challenges like poor road networks, long distances and the cost of travel. An additional deterrent to banking uptake are is the relatively high costs of associated.
In a country where only 20% of the population uses financial services and where the mobile phone penetration rate reaches 60%, there is a significant opportunity for mobile money to expand its reach through convenience and affordability. There are still regions such as Fatick, Kaffrine, Louga, Thies and Diourbel where cash is ‘king’ and parts of Dakar that don’t have financial access points. If mobile network operators encourage the digitisation of wages, for instance, they could increase access points, enabling increased security for customers and higher revenues for agents. There is also an opportunity for banks and other financial institutions to learn from the model of the network operator companies to participate in the growth of financial inclusion.
Choosing the right partner
Mobile money is a crucial tool for much Senegalese, and by offering the right mix of financial offerings to meet various needs, operators can expand their reach. By choosing a partner like Youtap, a pioneer in mobile money merchant payments, suppliers can expect to meet the financial needs of the unbanked as well those of all merchant tiers.