Organisers behind the Mobile Money Africa 2013 conference state that Africa is the hotbed for mobile money activity, and the continent counts 15 of the top 20 countries in the world by mobile money usage. With an estimated 80% of adults still “un-banked”, there is still massive opportunity.
Kenya, with the construction of the much-hyped “Silicon Savannah” recently started, is often discussed as leading the way in mobile money and is one of the technological powerhouses on the continent. Indeed, according to reports from CCK, the country’s telecoms regulator, Kenya’s mobile networks are now the largest bank in the country, thanks to the deposits they hold on behalf of their subscribers.
It is by no means just Kenya that has seen the benefits of mobile money, and a recent report from Agence France-Presse highlights how mobile banking has sparked a ‘minor revolution’ in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It has allowed civil servants to both get paid on time as well as receive exactly what is owed to them, avoiding the traditional pay packet and the problems with their superiors syphoning off ‘tips’ for their own pockets. For the impoverished, war-torn country it represents a major change for the better and comes a year after the Prime Minster of the DRC vowed to get rid of the process by which state workers were paid in cash.
Like most countries in Africa without traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ banks, the DRC opted for mobile banking. No need for a smartphone, it allows people to pay bills, receive wages and pay for items with a mobile phone. It is an incredible tool of empowerment. A year ago, only 2 percent of Congo’s 75 million population had bank accounts, now, that number is at 5.7 percent — thanks mostly to the government push to provide them to civil servants. Mobile banking should put a dent into the corruption that victimised workers, even state employees.
Mobile money is an ultra-competitive space with offerings launched throughout the continent. The news from the DRC is an excellent example of how the simple mobile phone is improving the lives of a country’s people by opening up access to the financial system.
- Silicon Alley Insider: BII REPORT: How Banking Is Going Mobile (businessinsider.com)
- Mobile banking sparks a ‘minor revolution’ in DR Congo workforce (rawstory.com)
- Mobile banking revolutionising DRC state wage payments (africareview.com)
- Congo banking on wage revolution for state workers (gulfnews.com)