Poor communication, trust deficiency slow mobile money penetration in Nigeria

Stakeholders in the e-payment system including banks, telcos, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)and Nigerian Communications Commission(NCC) have identified low-level of awareness and absence of trust as major challenges that have slowed mobile money penetration in Nigeria.

Mobile Money, an electronic payment solution that lets users send and receive money using their mobile phone, was introduced in Nigeria in 2009 to foster financial inclusion of the unbanked. However, 15 years on, only 1% of 154 million active phone lines users have embraced it as a means of payment.

L-R: Goddie ofose, Chairman, Brand Journalist’s Association of Nigeria (BJAN); Musa I. Jimoh, Deputy Director, Banking & Payments System Department, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN); Nkiru Olumide-Ojo, Head, Marketing and Communications, Stanbic IBTC and Akomen Omijeh, Corporate Communications Manager, Nigerian Bottling Company, at the BJAN 4th Annual Marketing Conference 2016, in Lagos, at the weekend. PHOTO;AKEEM SALAU

Stakeholders who spoke at the 2016 Annual Marketing Conference of Brand Journalists Association of Nigeria (BJAN) themed: “Mobile Money in Nigeria: Challenges, Opportunities, and Threats” blamed the lull on low level of awareness, poor communication of the concept and lack of trust by potential users.

The Head, Mobile& Acquiring Channels, Stanbic IBTC, Francis Nwoboshi, who observed that awareness of mobile money is significantly “very low” in Nigeria called for a stakeholders’ collaboration to create awareness, build affordability, quality and availability of key infrastructure.

“Awareness of mobile money is significantly very low. There is need for stakeholders’ collaboration. As an industry, we need to come up with a framework to create awareness, ensure affordability, quality and availability of key infrastructure.”

Corroborating Nwoboshi on awareness level, the Finance Officer, WHO, Ibrahim Abdullahi, who cited a report from a WHO-pilot mobile money payment in two states in Northern Nigeria; Kaduna and Kano States, said , “public awareness is still very low. For many of our beneficiaries, they are only hearing about mobile money for the first time.”

On the question of trust, a panelist and CEO, Innovatives, Emma Agha, noted: “There is always fear. The average Nigeria is very skeptical when it comes to (mobile)money. They want to see others use it first.”

Another panelist, Emeka Opara, raised the question of the mobile money model adopted by Nigeria. Opara who argued that mobile money in Kenya succeeded because it was telco-led, advocated the adoption of a telco-led model in place of the bank-led model in operation in the country. “Why not make it telco-led,” the Director Sponsorship, Events and PR, Airtel Nigeria, queried.

Reacting the Deputy Director CBN, Musa Jimoh, revealed that the CBN favours the bank-led rather than telco-led model to forestall regulatory arbitrage and giving undue advantage to the telcos which are the sole providers of the infrastructural platform for all e-transactions by banks.

Other challenges highlighted by speakers at the event include the non- existence a single national data, limited agent outlets, high cost of transactions, poor legal framework and profit-sharing contention amongst players in the value-chain