Yeah The Mobile Money Numbers for Ghana Suck

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Yes Yes , We know Mobile Money works brilliantly in Kenya , the stats show it

Safaricom makes more money from M-PESA than from SMS and data put together ( I have met the guys at Safaricom , a great bunch and  for them, M-PESA is in competition with physical cash and they are succeeding!!!!)

M-Pesa Statistics
M-Pesa Statistics


Now down to the meat of the matter ,It works in Kenya why does it not work anywhere else outside East Africa .

I will use Ghana as a Case Study .(well because I live there for the moment)

The mobile money numbers both from users and transactions from Ghana suck, yes despite the hype from Tigo, MTN,Airtel the numbers still .. Well you get my point


However I must give Tigo the Accolades for actually making the most effort in this space

This is what the Telco’s say are their numbers are …

30% of Tigo’s over 3.8 million subscribers are registered on Tigo Cash, of which 13% are actively doing between 5 and 6 transactions a month.( that’s means of 3.8m mobile subscribers they have got 1.12m on Tigo Cash)

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In comparison, Airtel with its 3.6m subscriber base has on Airtel money 900,000 customers, recording some 540,000 transactions (27.5 million)

MTN with subscriber base of 12.7m claims over 3 million Mobile Money subscribers and records about 1.5 million transactions worth about GHS 52 million monthly.

The Gotcha!!!

All those numbers look great until you realize that as of September 2013  out of 105%(27.5million) of mobile  penetration only 9% actually  have access to mobile money( I didn’t say active users, mind you   )


My research has shown that most Telco’s are enrolling new users immediately they register to use their SIM(Smart!!), and part paying employees to their mobile money accounts  which definitely helps the figures.


When Ericson did their Consumer Lab Analytics Research on Mobile Money for 2012, they found the top most issues why people in Ghana,Uganda and South Africa don’t use Mobile Money .


Ghana users dont use Mobile Money more because…: drummmm rollllllllll

  1. little Knowledge of how to use (take note it’s not that they don’t know about the service they don’t know how to use it
  2. It’s Expensive (well there are charges)
  3. I don’t feel I have control over the process
  4. It takes me too long

errr .. Mobile Money Product Managers please take note and fix ..

I am adding to that list, my issues ….

High Barrier to Entry
Now most Telecom users ship automatically with their SIMs , however you still need to visit the agent to top up or go to your bank and sort it out there . Too much hassle frankly if all I am going to use it for is top and to send money to friend I have an ATM card what is the value add?

Let’s go with the PayPal(This is another article) way or like I always say KISS(Keep it Simple Stupid )

The PayPal way means you sit in the comfort of your home/or office, fill out the details click and my banks details click and voila. Ok actually not voila for security reasons PayPal deposits a small random amount of money into your account e.g. 0.34p,

You get your SMS bank alert ,you go back and enter into your account details to confirm its you and then voila …. See simplicity and security conquered in one blow

Customer Segmentation
I have noticed that most Telco’s start out selling to the unbanked that is great …but there is a low ,a very very low hanging fruit .Me! by that I mean middle income Ghanaian/African (Yeah Africa Rising lol)

I have bills I need to pay and stuff I need to pay for and I don’t like going to ATM. well… You see my point

My take is… that the market differently to both segments offer each one designed to needs.

Distribution model
I am not sure I believe in the recruit Agents model; Telco’s have existing Distributors that distribute top up and spread across the country with which they have a commercial relationship already, why is nobody leveraging on that pre-existing model to ensure there are enough Agent points across the country

Then there is the question, should the Telecom’s really be the ones owning the mobile money space ;)

Oh by the way for the users in Ghana who actually use Mobile Money , below is what they use it for as per the Ericsson team’s research

Source : Ghana NCA Website and Techworld Africa Website