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Mobile Money Comes to Ghana

cash_cash_cash Four months after MTN’s Mobile Money launched in Ghana, it has 20,000 users and 1,200 merchants. Uptake has been slow, but as Bruno Akpaka states here in an interview with Paul Leishman,Programme Manager at Mobile Money for the Unbanked (GSMA), MTN has high hopes for the product.

The Mobile Money program requires subscribers to register their SIM chip using a photo ID at an MTN service center or a partner bank. Then, he can use his Mobile Money account at any one of 1,200 authorized merchants. The merchants have to have a bank account at any one of Mobile Money’s partners.

The service is still in “beta,” in everything but name. MTN hopes to grow slowly.

We are still growing very cautiously so as to ensure that we can focus on ensuring the customers we do register are fully comfortable with the process and service. Let us remember that this is a financial services product. When it comes to finance, customers are more conservative than when it comes to airtime. So yes, for now we’re being cautious in registering too many customers too early. We want to lead with below the line advertising to make people aware that we will be coming to the community to register customers. By then, they should be more comfortable with the process/service.

The service has a lot of room to grow, especially as MTN has already launched similar services in neighboring Côte d’Ivoire. One of the difficulties facing Mobile Money in Ghana is that banking regulations require that users carry picture identification before making purchases. How many Ghanaians carry their national ID card with them to go to the market?

Banks are excited about the service because it gives them an opportunity to reach the unbanked through their merchant partners. MTN is excited about the service because merchants in Ghana were early adopters of mobile technology, recognizing it as a profit-enhancing tool. Only time will tell if Ghanian consumers will embrace MTN’s Mobile Money as enthusiastically as East Africans have embraced M-Pesa.

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