Within the last three months alone, the three leading telcos in Ghana, MTN, Vodafone and AirtelTigo have recorded more than 1.27 billion mobile money transactions.
Minister of Communications and Digitalization, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful disclosed this at the 11th Ghana Information Technology and Telecom Awards (GITTA), which saw over 50 organizations and personalities, including TechGH24 CEO, Samuel Dowuona rewarded for their contributions to Ghana’s digital transformation.
In her keynote address, the Minister said “in the last three months Vodafone recorded 120,148,766 mobile money transactions, AirtelTigo recorded 68,988,609 mobile money transaction and the big brother, MTN recorded 1,085,722,438 mobile money transactions.”
In effect, out of a total of of about 1.275 billion mobile money transactions over the last three month, MTN Mobile Money alone saw a whopping 85.16 per cent of the total, while Vodafone Cash controlled some 9.42 per cent and AirtelTigo managed with just about 5.42 per cent of the total.
The Minister said all that put together gives a very encouraging idea of what the mobile money sector can contribute to the development of the country, particularly within the context of Ghana’s drive towards a digital economy, underpinned by financial inclusion.
She noted that, as of now, mobile money has surpassed banks in term of transactions, customer base and geographical reach, giving the indication that it is a key driver of the financial inclusion and digital transformation agenda.
This, according to the Minister, is largely because Ghanaians now find mobile money, and indeed other digital finance platforms, very convenient, largely safe and affordable to use than having to go to banking halls or deal with bank officials for transactions.
MTN in particular
Whereas mobile money in general, has proven to be the main driver of the cash-lite economy agenda, MTN Mobile Money in particular, remains the single platform that holds the key to the success of the process.
Indeed, when mobile money interoperability was newly launched, the custodians of the platform, Ghana Interbank Payments and Settlements System (GhIPSS) singled out MTN and thanked them for joining the platform, while admitting that MTN could have survived on its own without interoperability.
Again, at the launch of MTN’s 25th Anniversary, the Minister, for the first time, openly admitted that MTN’s overwhelming market share across all sectors of the industry is because, while MTN was investing heavily to blaze several trails in the industry over the years, the other players sat by and watched, waiting to cash in where MTN failed.
But MTN has, time and again, proven to have expert understanding of the Ghanaian environment, and therefore continued to churn out offerings packaged to suit the Ghanaian consumer and that continues to pay off.
The strength of MTN mobile money is, for instance, reflected in the fact that it is now piloting a “Pick and Pay Later” scheme, which will be based largely on customers’ mobile money transactions. This eliminates the employment of a bank as in a previous edition of the scheme, to underwrite the purchases. The move also keeps the money entirely within the MTN mobile money platform.
Vodafone pushes forward
But what is also interesting in the figures provided by the Minister was a confirmation of an earlier report by TechGH24, that Vodafone Cash has now taken the second spot on the mobile money chat, on the back of the very innovative free transfer of all amounts across all networks since Covid hit Ghana.
It was therefore not surprising that Vodafone Cash was adjudged the Innovative Product of the Year at this years GITTAs.
Vodafone was the last telcos to join the mobile money trail because it was focused on implementing an idea model that eliminates the problematic “over-the-counter” model MTN started with and struggled for six years without any earnings from the service.
But, even though Vodafone came in very late in the day, while MTN had already captured a huge chunk of the market with the over-the-counter model, it has proven to too strong for the other players like Airtel Money and Tigo Cash, which has now combined forces to become AirtelTigo Money.
MoMo intellectual rights
The Minister however expressed worry that even though mobile money was developed by Africans for Africa, its intellectual rights are now in the hands of people from the West, who saw the potential and bought it off the young African developers for a pittance.
So now that it is going global the current intellectual property owners are making billions off it, even though it originally belong to Africa.
Support Local Fintech
She said it is because of grave mistakes like that one, that the Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo government decided to give full government support to young local tech companies so that they can own and control the Ghana’s digital transformation infrastructure, instead of leaving it in the hands of expats.
Ursula Owusu recalled the employment of three local Fintech companies, Hubtel, ExpressPay and IT Consortium to develop and run the Ghana.gov platform, which has integrated all of government payments and has also set the tone for government to properly access living standards and lifestyles to determine how much tax they should pay.
She said government appreciates the expats who helped to build Ghana and Africa’s digital infrastructure, but it is time for Ghanaians and African to own and run the infrastructure and lead the continent’s digital transformation.
“Africa missed out on the first, second and third industrial revolutions, but we can’t miss out on the fourth one, which is the technology industrial revolution, and we cannot sit by and let expats control our digital transformation agenda,” she said.
The Minister also used her keynote address to state work done so far in the area of girls in ICT, rural telephony, and other aspects of the digital transformation agenda such as linking all national IDs and address system, including even tax ID to the national identification card, which is now being used for SIM re-registration to lay the foundation for real digital transformation in Ghana.
The Minister herself walked away with the most prestigious award for the night – The Digital Transformation Leader of the Year.