Financial stakeholders last weekend advocated for a strong collaboration between Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN), and Nigerian Communication Commission, (NCC), telco companies and banks as a panacea to deepen the mobile money eco-system.
The stakeholders who spoke at a conference on ‘Mobile Money in Nigeria – Challenges, Opportunities, Threats’ organized by Brand Journalists Association of Nigeria in Lagos regretted that Mobile money penetration in Nigeria is just one percent even with huge phone penetration, while Kenya is well over 17 percent.
The speakers at the conference blamed the lack of adequate collaboration between NCC, Telcos and Banks as impediment to effectively growing the system.
In his speech, Musa I. Jimoh, Deputy Director/Head, Banking & Payments System Department at Central Bank of Nigeria contended that making mobile money telco-led initiative would open Nigeria’s financial system to security risks.
He said a fundamental requirement for a stable, secure and reliable payment system is that, it should operate in a well-defined legal environment, setting out the rights and obligations of each party involved in effecting a payment through the system
“In Nigeria, the CBN which is the regulatory entity derives its powers from the CBN Act, 2007. The act empowers the Bank to promote and facilitate the development of efficient and effective system for the settlement of transactions, including the development of electronic payment systems”, he said.
The deputy director said the CBN on its part, will continue to live up to its billings in promoting a safe and efficient payment system.
Umar Garba Dambatta, Executive Vice-Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission who spoke on “Mobile Money: Nexus between technology & Financial Institutions” explained that Mobile Money is an alternative payment method used instead of paying with cash, cheque or credit cards. “Consumers can use their mobile phone to pay for a wide range of services and it requires no internet service to use Mobile Money as it can be menu-driven using the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) platform”
Dambatta who was represented by Henry Ojiokpota, principal manager, policy completion economic analysis, NCC, said the CBNprovides the guidelines for the operation of the mobile money services and prohibits mobile network operators (MNOs) from playing a lead role in any mobile money service in Nigeria. “After seeing the virtual monopoly created by Safaricom’s MPESA in Kenya, the Central Bank of Nigeria decided to only allow bank-led and non-MNO led third party operators to operate mobile money services in Nigeria”.
Also speaking, Francis Nwoboshi ,Head, Mobile & Acquiring Channels at Stanbic IBTC who underscored the importance of collaboration between the government, banks and telcos also noted that promotion of mobile money could be enhanced by government using the platform to make payment of bursaries, allowances, Social disbursement benefits and other items that could effectively be handled by the platform.
He pointed out that limited mobile money agency distribution outlets across the nation were also impeding the development of mobile money in Nigeria.
The forum also identified low level of public awareness in Nigeria on the operations of mobile money as a factor affecting the growth in the use of mobile money.
On information dissemination and communication, the forum therefore stressed the need for adequate consumer education activities to ensure that consumers are properly sensitized on the services around mobile money. All stakeholders especially banks and The CBN were advised on the need to mount massive campaigns to make ordinary Nigerians understand and appreciate mobile money.
In his speech, the chairman of the journalists association, Goddie Ofose said part of the objectives of the conference was to bring together analysts, experts, government representatives and regulators to crack some puzzles facing Mobile Money operations in Nigeria, analyse and aggregate all shades of ideas and suggestions that can enhance Mobile Money business in Nigeria.