Highlights from the 2017 Mobile Money Global Event

July 27, 2017 | Mobile Money | Sub-Saharan Africa | Tanzania | Mia Ryan

What key steps should the mobile money industry take to accelerate growth in the ecosystem over the next decade? How will the industry of tomorrow – together with stakeholders such as policymakers, donors and regulators – continue to push the frontier and continue to meet the needs of underserved customers? How will new players shape the industry going forward, and what role will interoperability play?

These questions were at the centre of discussions on 13 July 2017, when we welcomed over 400 mobile money thought leaders, industry stakeholders and policymakers to the Mobile Money Global Event in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Policy expectations were shared, disruptive new players identified and key drivers of the industry’s growth trajectory debated by our expert panellists and participating audience members.

An overarching theme of the day was the bright future of the mobile money industry, coupled with candid recognition of the challenges ahead to achieving deeper and ubiquitous financial inclusion. Yasmina McCarty, Head of Mobile for Development at the GSMA, began proceedings by introducing some of the key enablers to unlocking future growth for the industry, drawing on the GSMA’s newly released report on the State of Mobile Money in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Below, we reflect on key highlights and takeaways from our four main sessions. You can also revisit the final agenda and speaker list here.

Future of the Industry

  • Partnerships lie at the heart of accelerating the development of the mobile money ecosystem. Specifically, partnerships between banks, MNOs and Fintechs can create new value for customers.
  • Innovation will be key to growing ecosystem transactions. In particular, innovations beyond traditional use cases which tackles key challenges such as user interfaces via smartphones and the role of social media in future payment methods.
  • Continued engagement with regulators is crucial. Going forward, robust engagement with regulators to better understand and address their concerns will underpin the success of the industry in the next five to seven years.


Future of Policy and Regulation

  • Digitising the economy in any given market would benefit from a comprehensive national policy. Building a real mobile money ecosystem requires more than enabling regulation. Digitising the economy in any given market should be a comprehensive, country-wide policy. Financial regulators should coordinate dialogue with policy makers and regulators from other areas such as commerce, justice, health, taxes, agriculture and education.
  • Innovative forms of consumer protection are key. As products and services have evolved and diversified, so too have risks including fraud and money laundering. The absence of appropriate regulatory regimes and oversight can create further opportunities for fraud, so regulators have a critical role to play in mitigating these risks.
  • Regulatory harmonisation across markets is key to expanding IMT and cross-border commerce. A concerted effort to establish dialogue between regulators and the private sector will be integral to achieving this.


Future of Interoperability and Infrastructure

  • Banking, international money transfers, and merchant payments interoperability will be critical to achieving financial inclusion and the full potential of mobile money.
  • The real social value of interoperability comes from a commercially viable model that includes a growing number of payment types.
  • P2P interoperability has increased customer convenience, but has not transformed the market – less than 5% of current M-Pesa P2P volumes are off-net.


Future of Growth

  • Collaboration is a key driver for the future growth of the industry. Roar Bjaerum championed this view, supported by other speakers and participants.
  • Focusing on the now and solving problems for the customer is imperative for success. All participants felt that, detailed strategies apart, the secret to scaling mobile money was to continue to stay close to customers and creating products / services that solved actual problems faced by them.
  • 10 years is too long for mobile money to scale 10x. Perhaps the most encouraging message that came from one of the speakers – Rotimi Oyekanmi of Apis Partners – was that if mobile money providers really tap the opportunities available, the industry can scale 10x not in the next decade, but in fact in the next two to three years.


We would like to thank all speakers and attendees whose engaging contributions ensured rigorous debate and insightful analysis throughout the day. We look forward to welcoming you to next year’s event.


2017 Mobile Money Global Event speakers and moderators (in order of sessions):

Pierre Combelles (Orange Group)

Camilo Téllez-Merchan (Better Than Cash Alliance)

Berthold Gadagbui (Ecobank Group)

Paul Feenan (JUMO)

Lara Gidvani (GSMA Mobile Money)

Stephen Mwaura (Formerly of Central Bank of Kenya)

Mercy W Buku (CGAP)

Jean-Francois Le Bihan (Millicom Group)

Ahmed Dermish (MM4P, UN Capital Development Fund)

Claire Scharwatt (GSMA Mobile Money)

Sitoyo Lopokoiyit (Vodacom Tanzania Ltd)

Nnanna Enyi (Interswitch East Africa)

David Lubinski (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)

Lesley-Ann Vaughan (MiLA Consulting)

Kamal Quadir (bKash Bangladesh)

Cedric N’guessan (MTN Group)

Roar Bjaerum (Telenor Group)

Rotimi Oyekanmi (Apis Partners LLP)

Anant Nautiyal (GSMA Mobile Money)

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