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Money transfer via mobile phones has expanded to 16 percent of the total population in sub-Saharan Africa,
according to a new World Bank study, as reported by Mobile Money Africa. The Global Financial Inclusion Database, or Global Findex, has found only 3 percent of the population in the rest of the world take advantage of money transfers through mobile phones.
As per the report, in sub-Saharan Africa, take-up of mobile money services, pioneered by Kenya-based Safaricom’s M-Pesa service, has been boosted by the fact that traditional banking is hampered by transportation and other infrastructure problems.
A statement issued by World Bank claims that money transfers through mobile phones is a form of increasingly nontraditional banking that often
doesn’t require users to travel or set up an account at a brick-and-mortar bank. Further, such mobile banking allows account holders to pay bills,
make deposits or conduct other transactions via text messaging. Kenya, where 68 percent of adults report using a mobile phone for money transactions,
has seen particularly impressive growth in this market.
As revealed in the report, said Asli Demirguc-Kunt, the Bank’s director of development policy and chief economist of the Finance and Private Sector
Network, said that nearly two-thirds of the unbanked cite poverty as the obstacle to financial access, but about a third also blame the cost of
opening and maintaining an account or the bank’s being too far away, which means long bus rides for many.
In markets like Uganda, mobile money transfer services have become a revenue generator, with players hotly competing for users as margins on voice services have been driven down over the years. MTN Uganda, for example, has more than 2 million registered customers after launching in March 2009. MTN reported recently that US$100 million gets transferred over the service every month.
The four mobile money offerings in Uganda including MTN Mobile Money, Airtel Money, Warid-Pesa and Uganda Telecom’s M-Sente are largely similar,
allowing registered users to load money into their accounts, make transfers to other users, buy recharge vouchers as well as withdraw money.
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