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Top 10 - Mobile Money. Part I

Good news for women entrepreneurs in developing economies who use mobile money products and services to help drive business growth. The State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money 2023 (GSM Association) is released and it includes product updates, new partnerships and regulatory changes that can increase business efficiencies, promote productivity and advance financial inclusion.

Let's explore the Top 10 specific insights from the report that impact both women-led micro and small enterprises plus the essential business partners that support women entrepreneurs with access to markets, finance and business skills development.

  • A starting point is to put some parameters around what we mean by women-led micro and small enterprises. Micro-enterprises typically have fewer than 10 employees and low annual sales, often falling below a specific revenue threshold, while small enterprises typically employ between 10-49 employees with higher annual sales revenue. It is important to note that definitions of sales revenue thresholds do vary across countries and markets. Additionally, micro-enterprises often operate in the informal economy and may not be formally registered.


  • It is also important to identify whether the enterprise is banked, unbanked or a mix of the two.  This helps understand the existing mobile money use cases that are a good business fit and the new products and partnerships that support business development and growth. It is worth noting that the term unbanked in this case refers to enterprises that transact using cash and mobile money services, without access to traditional financial institutions.

  • While there can be various interpretations of the Top 10 insights the focus here is on those that are most relevant to women-led micro and small enterprises using the simple agriculture supply chain illustration in Figure 1, to help visualise how the use cases described may be applied across various industries.

  • No. 1 Interoperability Interoperability enables customers to make payments or transfers between different mobile money providers (MMP). For instance, in Kenya, Safaricom M-Pesa and Airtel Money now allow merchant payments across their networks. Interoperability also facilitates fund transfers between mobile money and bank accounts (M2B and B2M).  Interoperable bank transfers were among the fastest growing in 2022. B2M transactions increased by 36% and M2B transactions by 44%. On average, a mobile money provider is connected to 18 banks. The expansion of interoperability brings exciting benefits, creating new possibilities for everyone involved. Let's take a closer look at how it helps the Banked Distributor and the Unbanked Farmer (Figure 1) in their everyday transactions. No. 2 Payment Cards Payment cards are the result of new partnerships between mobile money providers and global payment processors. Organisations such as MTN MoMo and Mastercard, along with Safaricom M-Pesa's collaboration with Visa, offer payment cards linked to mobile money accounts. Although these services are in the early stages of adoption, mobile money customers, in particular unbanked users, can expect numerous benefits. The virtual and physical payment cards offer users convenient options, allowing customers to make online payments for both local and international goods and services. In addition, certain payment cards even enable international ATM withdrawals, all utilising the available cash balance on a mobile money account. In the context of women-led micro and small enterprise, let's take a look at the role of payment cards for our Unbanked Farmer (Figure 1).  However, it's important to consider that there may be other factors influencing the Unbanked Farmer's decision. Cultural factors, for instance, can play a significant role. They are likely to hold a respected position within their community and maintain relationships with local suppliers and merchants who transact using cash and mobile money services. The Unbanked Farmer may prioritise these existing trade connections and not want to undermine their established partnerships. A second consideration are payment card transaction fees. Mobile money users, in this case the Unbanked Farmer, typically pay close attention to the fees associated with various transactions, such as cashing out or making peer-to-peer payments. Consequently, they are likely to carefully examine and evaluate all fees, taking them into account when deciding whether to adopt a payment card. Nonetheless, in markets where accessing a bank account can be challenging for rural micro and small business owners, payment cards can play a vital role in further promoting financial inclusion, opening up more opportunities for business development and growth. No. 3 Credit Mobile Money enabled credit is not a new service.  The report has found that 53% of mobile money providers offer at least one credit solution to their customers. The number of unique customers, participating in the survey, receiving loans through their mobile money account grew by 18%.  However, the report also highlights the room for significant growth. What does this mean for the Unbanked Farmer looking to develop and expand their business?  Accessing credit can be confusing and daunting with a busy landscape of options and a variety of service providers with alternative financing solutions. Including government aid disbursements, donor-funded grants, partially guaranteed loans from financial institutions or aid agencies, and loans from microfinance organizations with favourable repayment terms for micro and small business owners. Additionally, the Unbanked Farmer may also participate in community savings and loans groups.   The report highlights the significance of mobile money enabled credit within a comprehensive ecosystem of partnerships and services, positioning it as a viable financing solution for business. Spotlighting the Vodacom M-Kulima and Finca partnership of digital crop procurement and mobile money payments solution enabling access to credit for farmers, using farmer data for their credit scoring model. The business model for PAYG solar can also be repurposed for a range of use cases, enabling previously unbanked users to build a credit history. Overall, the collaborative approach of ecosystem thinking, and partnership models is working to position mobile money-enabled credit as a compelling complimentary financing solution for micro and small businesses. FOLLOW FOR PART TWO ...​

  • For the Banked Distributor, enhanced interoperability can mean seamless and convenient fund transfers between bank accounts and mobile money. This allows them to pay for the crops they purchase from the Unbanked Farmer either via bank to mobile or direct, between mobile money services. Additionally, they can conveniently pay salaries to warehouse and distribution staff, who are mobile money users. Interoperability can help simplify business operations and keep everything running smoothly.

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