According to a report issued by Visa in collaboration with Fundamo, a platform provider of mobile financial services for mobile network operators (MNOs) and financial institutions in developing economies, nearly 90 percent of consumers in surveyed countries expressed interest in making use of mobile money services in the future.
The study has also found that consumers’ needs for financial services in developing countries are far more sophisticated than previously believed and go well beyond the established transaction set offered by mobile money services today. Additionally, security concerns associated with carrying cash and the need to quickly send money to family members living far away are among the key drivers for mobile money adoption.
Moreover, the report has revealed that there is high awareness of mobile money services and functionalities among consumers in developing economies. Across the six countries surveyed, average awareness stood at 56 percent and three countries stood out in particular. In Ghana, awareness was at 93 percent with MTN identified as the most known mobile money provider while in Pakistan 89 percent of the public are mobile money aware and easyPaisa is the most recognized brand and 53 percent of consumers in Bangladesh were aware of mobile money and identified bKash as the leading brand.
Furthermore the report has shown that while many survey participants did not have a formal financial account, several examples of complex and sophisticated money management systems emerged across the six markets. Using a range of techniques, the majority of respondents shared how they set money aside for education, healthcare, emergencies and life events. The majority of consumers surveyed intend to use mobile money to send money to family members (81 percent), pay utility bills (56 percent) and save money for their family (52 percent).
The study has also explained that the primary driver and reason to adopt mobile financial services is not to establish formal savings, but rather the need to protect funds from theft and the ability to more easily send funds, pay bills, school fees, etc. Across the six countries, 80 percent of respondents cited “safety of not having to carry around a lot of cash” as the primary perceived benefit of mobile money, while 63 percent of respondents listed “speed of getting money to family members living far away” as the second most important benefit.
Additionally, the report has shown that, across the six countries, respondents cited ease of use (64 percent), lack of trust in mobile money providers and agents (55 percent) and lack of interoperability with other mobile money services (28 percent), as primary barriers to adoption. In addition, lack of accessibility to mobile money agents, mobile network reliability, communication and education appear to be major barriers, preventing activation and usage of mobile money accounts.
The report has suggests that the way in which a mobile money operator markets its service can have an impact on consumers’ desire to adopt such a service. For example, the study has found that “safe keeping” rather than “saving” money is a primary driver for why consumers in developing countries are interested in using mobile money services. This suggests that mobile money providers should invest in additional research to better understand their customers’ needs, tailor information, education and marketing efforts to the needs of consumers and mobile money agents and adopt local terminology.
Finally, the study has revealed that ease of use was listed as the biggest barrier to adoption by survey respondents (64 percent). Consumers, merchants and agents alike also cited the importance of offering a clear pricing structure as a key need of a mobile money program. Individuals are price sensitive and evaluate alternative options meticulously. For example, the cost of calls was the primary reason for choosing a mobile network operator in five of the six markets surveyed. Additionally, not having prevalent accessibility to mobile money agents is ranked as a key barrier to the adoption of mobile money. In order to drive adoption, cash and customer service will need to be readily accessible to meet expectations with 54 percent of consumers citing quick and easy access to cash as a key benefit of mobile money.
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