Today, the CEOs from Airtel, Avea, Axiata, Etisalat, Millicom, MTN, Ooredoo, Orange, Telenor, Vodafone, and Zain have endorsed the GSMA’s Code of Conduct for Mobile Money Providers, which establishes common business principles to develop a safe and responsible industry for digital financial services. The operator groups that have endorsed the Code represent 82 deployments in 51 countries. Globally, mobile operators lead the operations of 60% of the 251 live mobile money services, accounting for over 80% of total active mobile money customers.
Developing the Code of Conduct
The development of this Code began two years ago with MMU’s first regulatory working group, held at the GSMA’s NFC & Mobile Money Summit in Milan. This was the first time that GSMA members offering mobile money services were convened to discuss how to standardise compliance and risk mitigation mechanisms. At the time, these members requested the GSMA’s support to develop a harmonised approach to operationalise risk mitigation, creating a common initiative that would benefit both the service providers that were operating in a partial regulatory vacuum and those who were active in markets where the regulatory approach had already been identified.
Since then, the GSMA has collaborated with these members to address some of the challenges for the mitigation of operational and regulatory risks. Together with its members, the GSMA has developed a training curriculum for compliance managers and AML/CFT officers, assisted certain providers in setting up escrow accounts, and equipped providers with tools for fraud prevention. This work has been critical to build the necessary knowledge to develop the Code.
In addition, the GSMA has launched the Mobile Money Interoperability (MMI) programme, which aims to support mobile operators to achieve interoperability of mobile money services (both MNO-MNO and MNO-bank) and to further develop the digital ecosystem by facilitating the integration of third parties to “ride the rails” of mobile money. For providers involved with MMI, the Code will play a fundamental role by increasing consistency of business practices and building the necessary confidence for partnerships to be established.
Commitment of providers: Strengthening the whole digital financial ecosystem
Therefore, strengthening risk mitigation is a shared industry objective that this Code aims to support. However, the Code and the providers’ commitment go beyond this by creating the foundation for an initiative that prioritizes the provision of safe and reliable services.
This commitment will strengthen the whole digital financial ecosystem because it puts the customer experience at the centre. A number of the Code’s Principles directly address key customer concerns, including safeguarding customer funds; training and monitoring those who interact with customers (whether staff, agents, or other third parties); ensuring the reliability and security of the network and system used to process their transactions; ensuring proper disclosure so that customers can make informed decisions; providing effective mechanisms for addressing customer complaints; and protecting customer data. The primary beneficiaries of this Code are mobile money customers.
The Code also covers a critical area from the perspective of regulators and policymakers: financial integrity. One of the principles specifically addresses the development of effective, risk-based mechanisms to mitigate money laundering and terrorist financing risks.
In the coming weeks, the GSMA will ask more of its members to endorse the Code and commit to the implementation of the Code’s eight principles. Beyond adherence to these principles, providers that have endorsed the Code will work with us and with selected technical experts to develop implementation tools and a technical assistance programme. These will assist both the groups and the country-level providers to build all the necessary policies and to monitor their effectiveness, first through a self-certification process and later through a robust certification regime.
Download the Code of Conduct and read our FAQs to learn more about it.
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 GSMA estimates.