Money Transfers
Through the process of mobile transfer, recipients in villages have empowered themselves economically to pay for urgent health care delivery, education of their children and wards, clothing, accommodation, travel and sundry other needs that village dwellers have. Village dwellers in the developing world have one common problem when dealing with daily survival tasks like health care delivery, food, travel, trade, education and more. That common problem is access to cash. Long distances separate them from banks and automated teller machines (ATMs). Therefore, they need help paying for urgently needed products and services. This situation compounds their poverty.

Farmers, craftsmen and producers often have to wait for designated market days to sell their products for badly needed cash. During days in between, they have to endure extreme lack and deprivation and sometimes, the conditions of sick persons get worse and in some cases may lead to death. Even when relatives living in cities or abroad have the means and desire to assist their kin, they cannot do so due to the non-existence of rural banking or cash points/ATMs. However, the situation is now improving. The introduction of mobile money transfer technology enabled by widespread ownership of mobile phones in rural areas and the emergence of several network providers has brought relief to village dwellers. In Nigeria, Mobile Telephone Network (MTN) introduced MTN Mobile Money, popularly called MOMO and its impact on the villagers is like a miracle.

The MTN mobile money transfer launched in Nigeria on August 29, 2019. Although it had been operating in smaller African countries including Ghana and Cameroon, its potential to affect a larger population and therefore be able to lift more people out of poverty on the continent is bigger in Nigeria.

Definition of Mobile Money

The Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), Europe’s leading network of Economic Research defines Mobile Money as follows: “Mobile money refers to financial transaction services potentially available to anyone using a mobile phone, including the unbanked global poor who are not a profitable target for commercial banks.”

A blog on the World Bank website further defines mobile money as “……Services whereby customers use their mobile device to send and receive monetary value – or more simply put, to transfer money electronically from one person to another using a mobile phone.”

For the village dweller, the rapid transaction that results in ready cash for his immediate needs is a miracle. Relatives and buyers of products and services across the globe can remit money home or pay for services rapidly. Through the process of mobile transfer, recipients in villages have empowered themselves economically to pay for urgent health care delivery, education of their children and wards, clothing, accommodation, travel and sundry other needs that village dwellers have.

What is the Attraction of Mobile Money Transfers?

  • Lower Costs of Transactions: To the village dweller, the costs of transportation, time and risks going to the cities and towns to receive or deposit money in banks are drastically reduced.
  • Ready Availability of Cash: The ready availability of cash to meet urgent needs is the most significant attraction.
  • Empowerment and Ability to Save: Women and young people will empower themselves when they receive money through their phones. The privacy of transactions enables them to save.
  • Economic Growth: The village economy grows with the ability of recipients to engage in buying and selling, especially during harvest seasons.
  • Earning Money: Mobile money transfer agents earn money from their charges and can meet their immediate family needs.

The Impact

In a study conducted on the impact of mobile money transfers on rural dwellers in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. The conclusions found that: 

  1. It empowered rural women to become economically independent of their male counterparts in critical decision-making about themselves as well as increasing their capacity to save. Similar studies in Kenya and Bangladesh validated this as well.
  2. Mobile money enhances the informal insurance in the community against natural disasters through sharing.

Looking Ahead

The full impact of mobile money transfers on alleviating global poverty in rural areas continues to unfold as new studies into the technology and its application emerge. Many more countries in the developing world are now catching up to the miracle of mobile money transfers. It enables governments to put into practice the policy of financial inclusion that international financial institutions have advocated for as the gateway to alleviating global poverty.

Friday Okai
Photo: Flickr

Movies to Africa
Mobile network provider MTN Ghana has partnered with African Movies on the GO (AMGO), a content provider, to provide over one billion movie lovers access to any of their favorite movies online using their smartphone devices.

The AMGO app will put unlimited African entertainment in the hands of movie lovers on the continent and abroad at a moderate cost. Users can easily watch downloaded videos offline anywhere and anytime on their smart mobile device, and movies can be paid for using MTN Mobile Money or any other electronic payment service of choice.

Apps like AMGO are especially important in the drive to connect more smartphone users in Africa. The continent is already seeing substantial positive change, with the number of smartphone connections almost doubling over the last two years, reaching 226 million. This means that today more than half a billion people across Africa subscribe to mobile services, with the number expected to grow to 725 million by 2020.

The mobile ecosystem indirectly and directly contributed to 3.7 million jobs in 2015. This could potentially help the continent grow its job sector; and if mobile device prices continue to drop as they have, Africa could potentially move over the affordability barrier.

The AMGO app will help the continent do just that by promoting digital access to media and entertainment. The app, specifically, could present a great opportunity for African movie producers according to the CEO of AMGO Group LLC, Nana Osei Aboagye. Equally important, it will also sell African content to the outside world in an effort to change the narrative of the continent.

The ultimate hope is to enhance the lives of the users by enabling them access to these benefits. Currently, the app is available on Google Play for Android devices, but the company plans to get other operating systems on board.

With the release of the AMGO app, Africa will take a big step forward in its digital revolution and enhance its people’s lives.

Mayan Derhy

Photo: Flickr