Newly-merged AirtelTigo has said it is in serious discussions with some banks and business people to inject liquidity into its mobile money operations, so as to drive expansion and promote transformation in the financial inclusion agenda.
The plan includes making sure its mobile money agents have enough cash at hand always, to deal with the situation where agents often tell customers they do not have enough money to give.
The company’s CEO, Ms. Roshi Motman, told the Network of Communication Reporters (NCR) that: “Another key piece of our strategy is going to be mobile money. Tigo Cash has a bunch of customers; Airtel Money has its customers, and now we want to expand that footprint quite dramatically.
“There are two things that are important from the customer perspective when it comes to mobile money, which is the accessibility and agents having enough liquidity to give out the money. We are going to be on top of our game so the business can thrive.”
The merged entity, she said, has an extensive distribution network, and it will focus on making things simpler, easier and better for customers.
Industry operators have raised concerns that solving the liquidity management challenge is one of the next big issues facing mobile money providers around the world.
Chief Finance Officer of AirtelTigo, Bright Owusu-Bempah, said discussions with investors are being finalised, and “There is going to be huge transformation in our mobile money operations, whereby we hope that, within reasonable ranges, you will be able to access agents who always get your transaction processed”.
Data from the Bank of Ghana show that from January to December 2017, AirtelTigo recorded an amount of GH¢79million – accounting for a 3.56 percent share of the mobile money deposits in the country.
Mr. Owusu-Bempah explained that the company’s strategy is to leverage on the opportunity to effect fresh changes, which is what it will be working on in the next couple of weeks.
“What we are trying to do is increase volumes and also support the agents with liquidity. With our target, it should be able to get us to where we want to be,” he said.
According to data from the Bank of Ghana, the amount of money mobilised outside the banking system through mobile money recorded GH¢2.3billion ending December 2017, representing a growth of 84.6 percent over the December 2016 figure of GH¢1.3billion.
These funds mobilised through mobile money transactions are currently held by banks.
The data also show that mobile money accounts reached 23.95 million compared with 11.43 million bank accounts as at end-December 2017. The value of mobile money transactions was GH¢155.8billion at end-December 2017, showing a growth of 98.5 percent over the GH¢78.5billion realised in December 2016.
MTN sits on top as having the largest share of deposits, accounting for more than 90 percent of mobile money accounts held at commercial banks – and as at October 2017, had GH¢2.1billion, representing 93.5 percent of deposits held at commercial banks.
Airtel/Tigo followed with GH¢79million, accounting for a 3.56 percent share of the deposits. Vodafone had a 2.52 percent of the market share, with GH¢57million deposits.
For some, the amount held by MTN makes a strong case for its quest to establish a ‘Digital Bank’ in Ghana soon, subject to securing the required regulatory approval.
Banks holding the accounts
Fidelity Bank led the pack in terms of banks holding the largest share of mobile money deposits, with GH¢583million. Ecobank had GH¢470million, while CAL Bank held GH¢229m.
These were the top-three banks out of the 19 captured in the Bank of Ghana data as holding mobile money deposits as at October 2017.
Direct jobs created by mobile money through engagement of mobile money agents was 194,688 in December 2017, compared with 136,769 in December 2016.
The Payment Systems and Services bill, when passed this year, is expected to provide additional support for deepening the payment landscape by creating job opportunities for the youth, facilitating international inward transfers, and providing convenience and choice for consumers.