Senior Adviser, Ericson ConsumerLab, Patrik Hedlund

By Emma Okonji

Ericson ConsumerLab has stated the need for all nationals to benefit from mobile financial service across the sub-Saharan Africa, noting that its absence could be detrimental to the financial security of a high number of citizens of the affected nations across the continent.

Citing five sub-Saharan countries; Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda as focal points, the company in its report, observed that 63 percent of about 150 million consumers interviewed were unbanked. This, it said meant that a higher percentage of the interviewed don’t use a savings or current bank account.

In a more crucial note, the percentage of unbanked is higher among lower socioeconomic groups – up to 72 per cent in rural areas.

For instance, in DRC alone, 82 per cent of the population is said to be unbanked. In contrast, Nigeria records the highest proportion of banked people.

The report however stated that in all countries, except Angola, the uptake of financial services has mainly been for savings accounts. This means that Angolan consumers have adopted a broad range of financial services such as credit and debit cards and even internet banking for bank account management.

The report was presented during a press briefing in Lagos by the Senior Adviser, Ericson ConsumerLab, Patrik Hedlund, on “Financial Services for Everyone”.
It stated: “As there is an express need among consumers for secure and immediate access to financial services, usage of mobile money services personally on a mobile phone could be a way forward. To become a self sufficient user, people need to first become aware and try out the service.

Consumers’ level of awareness, knowledge, testing, usage and satisfaction varies between the countries.”

Also speaking at the briefing, the Vice President, Strategy and Marketing, sub-Saharan Africa, Tumi Chamayou, said if there were 600 million population having access to financial services, there should also be an equivalent number of people having access to mobile financial services too.

“Operators should seize the opportunity of mobile financial services inclusion. All industries need transformation, and as a result, we are making efforts to make this development possible all over the ecosystem,” she said.

While also highlighting some of the disadvantages of mobile financial services, Chamayou noted that services prices were reduced for mobile money services in order to increase accessibility, and as a result, revenues of mobile money services operators are beginning to decrease.

She however called on stakeholders, especially in all tiers of government, to adopt a system of strict adherence to mobile financial service inclusion in order to encourage enhanced personal financial management system among citizens.