Contrary to general belief among telecommunications operators (Telcos) that the perceived slow take-off of the country’s cashless policy initiative is as a result of the exclusion of telecoms operators in driving the initiative, a telecoms expert has vehemently disagreed with such belief.Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
Director, Digital Africa and telecoms analyst, Dr. Amstrong Takang, who faulted the perception of telecoms operators, also admitted the slow beginning of the cashless policy that was intended to drive mobile money transactions in the country, but blamed the situation on inadequate mobile money agents across the country.
Takang told THISDAY in Lagos the challenge was not with the drivers of the initiative, which are the banks, as perceived by telecoms operators, but with the limited number of agents spread across the country that were supposed to receive and remit cash to Nigerians operating mobile money.
“If I transfer cash through mobile money to a friend or relative, the person is supposed to cash the money through an agent, upon receipt of short message service (SMS) confirming the successful transaction. But the challenge is that the recipient does not have easy and quick access to mobile money agents that are located in far places,” Takang said.
He explained that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which initiated the cashless policy, decided to make it a bank-led driven process instead of telecoms-led, as currently being practiced in Kenya and some other countries. However, he insisted the success of the policy did not rest on the driver of the policy, but on the structure put in place by whoever is driving it.
The CBN, from the inception of cashless policy in Nigeria in 2010, decided it would be bank-led, based on the sensitive nature of cash control, a decision that did not go down well with telecommunications operators who had thought that CBN would involve them to drive the initiative, since the technology driving the entire process is owned and managed by the telecoms operators.
Chairman of Globacom, Dr. Mike Adenuga had in 2010, the inception of cashless initiative in the country, spoke against the idea of excluding telecommunications operators, even when they are providing the technology platform on which the initiative is running, just like it is practised in some countries where the initiative has been successful.
In a renewed complaint, the Director of Regulatory Affairs and Special Projects at Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Osondu Nwokoro, identified the exclusion of telecommunications operators from playing very active roles in the implementation of mobile money as a major drawback to the uptake of the service.
According to him, “Almost three years after the issuance of the first mobile money licences, only about 2.2 per cent of adults with bank accounts have subscribed to the service while the unbanked population is yet to be reached.”
He added: “Nigeria is yet to leverage her huge population and telecoms subscriber number of over 120 million to unlock mobile money potentials, and this is why the performance of the initiative is still far below expectation.”
According to Nwokoro, “Telcos have demonstrated capability to address the constraints associated with the slow uptake of mobile money service. Therefore, the regulatory framework should be reviewed to allow their involvement, to eliminate the constraints.”