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Top 10. Mobile Money. Part II



Before we dive into Part 2 of the Top 10 specific insights from the State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money 2023 (GSM Association) that impact both women-led micro and small enterprises plus the essential business partners that support women entrepreneurs, let’s recap the key parameters highlighted in Part 1.

  • Micro-enterprises typically have fewer than 10 employees and low annual sales, while small enterprises would employ between 10-49 employees with higher annual sales revenue. Micro-enterprises often operate in the informal economy.

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  • The importance of identifying whether an enterprise is banked, unbanked or a mix of the two.  In the context of this Top 10, the term unbanked refers to enterprises that transact using cash and mobile money services, without access to traditional financial institutions.

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We will continue to refer to Figure 1. the simple agriculture supply chain illustration centred around a woman micro-enterprise owner, the Unbanked Farmer, to help visualise how the use cases described may be applied across a mix of industry sectors.

No. 4 Insurance

Mobile-enabled insurance services include those that offer mobile money as a payment mechanism for both premiums and claims, integrate with mobile money accounts and rely on mobile technology throughout the customer journey.

According to the report, the number of insurance policies in force grew by 11% between September 2021 and June 2022, with 18% of Mobile Money Providers (MMP) offering mobile-enabled insurance. Many addressing the significant social protection gap in developing economies, as highlighted by the International Labour Organisation. Referring also to the report: Partnership models for mobile-enabled insurance (GMSA Mobile Money, 2021), there are currently 135 mobile-enabled insurance services in 28 countries, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.  

“While mobile money-enabled insurance is still nascent, there are encouraging signs of growth.”

Now, let’s explore how the continued investment in mobile-enabled insurance products supports business development and growth for the Unbanked Farmer (Figure 1).

A wide range of mobile-enabled insurance products are available including life, health, disability, vehicle, home, and agriculture insurance.  Yet the most popular is life/funeral insurance at 31% of total mobile-enabled insurance services. With Agri/crop/weather insurance at 8% up-take.

Yet the report tells us that adoption among women is low with 0% paying for an insurance product in Pakistan to a high of 8% of women in Kenya.  It is worth noting that this data does not specifically highlight women-led micro business owners who have between 1 – 10 employees.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that paying for insurance may not always be perceived as relevant or a priority expense compared to essential needs such as food and education. We also know that access to insurance is often facilitated at a community rather than an individual level where funds are pooled and claims are made collectively on behalf of members.  One such example is a women's funeral savings group in Harare, Zimbabwe which subscribes to the mobile-enabled Econet EcoSure product. This arrangement helps cover the expense of funeral services in the event of a loved one's death, particularly when the deceased was the main breadwinner in the family.

What is clear is that services have grown as a result of collaboration between traditional and new players, involving a complex and specialised delivery value chain, involving mobile money providers, global and local insurers and technical services providers.[1]

In terms of insurance, this report highlights three important takeaways to consider.

1. Partnerships are key to the future of deployment of relevant and affordable insurance products for women-led micro business. Mobile network operators have the capacity to offer access to rural communities and unbanked mobile money users. They offer insurance providers the necessary infrastructure to scale their service in a commercially viable sound manner making it an attractive proposition.   Collaborations between mobile network operators, financial service providers and insurance underwriters are key to driving this progress.


2. For the Unbanked Farmer, earning interest on savings held on mobile money accounts is likely to be a benefit they may not be aware of.  Insurers have also created the opportunity to earn interest when bundling services. In June 2021, Vodafone Cash in Ghana partnered both with Millennium Insurance and miLife to launch miFuture, a savings linked microinsurance product. miFuture provides insurance coverage for death and disability, and also o­ffers customers a platform to save and accrue interest on their savings.


3. Successful repayments of mobile-enabled insurance plans contribute to the digital footprint of micro enterprises.  This data can in turn be used when assessing credit worthiness against loan requests.  Vodacom Tanzania is piloting a new digital agriculture loan in partnership with FINCA microfinance bank, using M-Kulima farmer data for their credit scoring model. Women-led business often face challenges when requesting anything more than a microloan or an overdraft on their mobile money account as they may lack collateral such as land rights, to support their loan requests.  An Insurance service that understands the needs of women-led business, taking into account credit scoring, is a positive development.


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[1] Partnership models for mobile-enabled insurance. GSMA Mobile Money 2021

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