Six months into the introduction of mobile money in the country, there are strong indications that the project, initiated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has not been fully embraced at the level of its pilot scheme.
Most people, according to experts’ views, are yet to see how the project would work effectively and they have expressed worry on how they could live without carrying cash in their pockets and handbags; a situation that calls for adequate campaign and education of people on the gains of mobile money.
Chief Executive Officer of eTransact, one of the CBN-licensed mobile money operators, Mr. Valentine Obi, spoke to THISDAY, shortly after the launch of Pocket Moni from eTransact, and attributed the low level of acceptance of cashless initiative to fear of insecurity and compatibility of mobile phones.
According to him, research conducted by eTransact, revealed that most high income earners are afraid of losing their money to hackers during financial transactions, while low income earners are sceptical to align with the project, for fear of compatibility of their low-end mobile phones with the mobile money platform.
“Our findings compelled us to come up with Pocket Moni, which is one of our flagship products for easy and safe mobile money transactions,” Obi said.
On the issue of lack of awareness, Obi said “Once there is inadequate awareness, the issue of insecurity about mobile money will continue to resurface. People all over the country must be aware of the importance of mobile money in order to key into it. Most people do not believe it can work in Nigeria, so there is need for education and awareness creation among our people.”
Vice Chairman, Wini Group, Mr. Tim Akano, told THIDAY that Nigeria needed more awareness campaign on cashless initiative. “CBN has introduced cashless economy but the people are not yet fully aware about the inherent risks in operating a digital economy and how to solve that problem,” Akano said.
Presenting a paper at the launch of Pocket Moni in Lagos, Obi said the product was introduced basically for its numerous clients and their customers to enable them take advantage of the ease of operation of the product in enhancing business in the present day cashless society. “What we are presenting to them is to help them transact better business using the mobile banking and mobile payment platforms,” he said.
Addressing the issue of security, Obi said the product came with full encryption for all transactions, which makes it difficult for hackers to intercept and decrypt information during transactions on the Pocket Moni.
He added that the transaction remained personal, and must be initiated only by the customer who owns the mobile phone, since it has a Personal Identity Number (PIN) that is known only to the customer. “If the phone is stolen or lost, nobody can have access to information on the phone, except the customer reveals his PIN number,” he said.
Speaking on some of the challenges facing mobile money in the country, Obi listed low level infrastructure, low awareness campaign, security issues, unstable connectivity, non-compatibility of mobile phones and software, among others.
He however said most of the challenges have been addressed with Pocket Moni from eTransact. With Pocket Moni, people could pay bills, buy airtime, transfer money from their bank accounts to another bank and vice-versa, Obi said.