Thursday, March 14, 2013

Reaching the Unreached: Day 1 Conference Summary

IMTFI fellows Richard Zhixin Kang and Edwin Cliff Mensah report on the first day of the IMTFI-sponsored conference "Reaching the Unreached: Mobile Money Uptake in Ghana" in Accra.

IMTFI-supported researchers, conference organizers, and invited guests gather at the "Reaching the Unreached" conference in Accra, Ghana. From left to right: Joel Patenaude, Dr. Mani Nandhi, Dr. Vivian Dzokoto, Dr. Richard Zhixin Kang, Dr. Edward Omane-Boamah (Ghana Minister of Communications), Dr. Edwin Cliff Mensah, Abena Offe, Dr. Robert A. Baffour (Vice President of Ghana Technology University).

The first day’s activities in the conference started from the Welcome Address made by the Vice President of Ghana Technology University College (GTUC) Dr. Robert A. Baffour, who emphasized  the importance of doing research on mobile money in Ghana. Then GTUC’s Registrar Dr. Patrick Bobbie pointed out how new technologies may generate significant impacts for a society in his speech titled “Technology and Change.” The Minister of Communications Honorary Dr. Edward Omane-Boamah enumerated in his 10-minute speech the major efforts made by the Ghanaian government in pushing the development and expansion of the mobile money in recent years.

In his keynote speech, Mr. Peter Zetterli from the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) provided detailed coverage about the current status of mobile money development in Ghana. He listed the possible reasons why Ghana has very low uptake in the Mobile Money and suggested what might be done to boost the expansion of mobile money in Ghana in the near future. He pointed out that mobile money providers play a very important role in accelerating mobile money uptake.

The paper presentations, panel discussions, and onsite mobile money demonstrations by the vendors provided the audience with rich information about mobile money research and practice. It was clear that convenience, trust, security, and cost are the major determining factors in promoting mobile money services to potential customers. Educating poor or marginalized populations about the basic features of mobile money also plays a pivotal role in attracting them to this new service. Others highlighted accessibility of mobile money in rural areas as one of the concerns. And finally, many focused on regulations as necessary in monitoring mobile money practices, but that more coordination is needed among the different regulators in Ghana. Interestingly, some researchers and panelists pointed out that one of the reasons for low uptake of mobile money in the rural areas in the country is that Ghana has the rural banking infrastructure that can meet these areas’ basic banking needs.

The audience engaged in very close interaction with the presenters, panelists, and the industry representatives by asking many questions, making comments, and providing suggestions.

Below we list some of the takeaways from attendees on the first day of the conference: 

"The experience of meeting with key players in the various Industries and with key national dignitaries has been really fulfilling."

"I have learnt a lot about the banking system, especially, about savings and mobile money. I will advise everybody here present to use mobile money."

"Mobile money will help us [traders] to do business in a more secured way, especially those in the Kaneshie Market. I will advise my friends to join."

"I have witnessed the demonstration on Tigo Money and it is unbelievable. This conference has really exposed me to the reality and effectiveness of mobile money."

"I will advise women in my market to register and use the mobile money system. The success story of the Kenyan M-PESA has been really good."

"I attended this conference to learn about the hindrances to digital financial services."

"I will tell my colleague market women who sell tomatoes (especially those who travel at dawn to Kumasi and are often attacked by thieves) that the mobile money system will be very good for them."

1 comment:

  1. 'Convenience, trust, security, and cost' on the demand side plus quality of service on the supply side and regulation from government institutions ensure an equilibrium in the market.

    However, financial education ensures growth in uptake of any Mobile Money service as it tackles acceptability, adoption and usage.

    Thus, an informed society is a stable potential client-base for any Mobile Money service!