P2G payments: How does mobile money experience inform what users want?

November 16, 2017 | Mobile Money | Global | Sub-Saharan Africa | Global | Kenya | Guest Blogger

This blog was written by Amolo Ng’weno, East Africa Director at BFA. This is the second blog in a two-part series of guest blogs.

In the recent study of person-to-government (P2G) payments in Kenya, we saw that citizens could save considerable expense when they used mobile money for P2G payments. Whereas in the past people would have to go to their town center and wait in line for hours to be served, today they can quickly conduct their transactions at a nearby cybercafé or even on their own phone. And yet, it wasn’t cost that citizens focused on when talking about why they liked mobile money payments: instead they talked most about convenience and speed. In the recent study of person-to-government (P2G) payments in Kenya, we saw that citizens could save considerable expense when they used mobile money for P2G payments. Whereas in the past people would have to go to their town center and wait in line for hours to be served, today they can quickly conduct their transactions at a nearby cybercafé or even on their own phone. And yet, it wasn’t cost that citizens focused on when talking about why they liked mobile money payments: instead they talked most about convenience and speed.

“So even if they charge you 50 shillings or 100 shillings – and from here to Nairobi or Thika is more than that – you see that is fair” Users of mobile money for government services payments, Muranga.

Using citizen feedback, most government agencies have learnt to implement different ways to change citizens’ perspectives. Although achieving this change is difficult in the short term, small progressive efforts are reaping benefits which agencies are confident will be fully realized in the long term. There is an opportunity to cross-share learning with PSPs to use new and efficient processes that have come with new technology.

Here’s what we realized: a larger percentage of the millions of new users who have come on board to make P2G payments by mobile money never experienced the past system of long waits and bureaucracy. These are the more youthful users who have interacted with the government services directly for less than 10 years, but they have had their expectations honed by their experience with mobile money and cellphone service providers, especially Kenya’s dominant mobile money provider M-PESA.

People under age 30 have grown up with M-PESA which is now 10 years old. They’ve also been using mobile money to access various non-government services: the 2016 Financial Inclusion Insights tracker shows that 71% of Kenyan mobile money users take advantage of advanced uses such as savings, bill payments, receiving salaries, paying for goods and accessing loans. Citizens therefore have expectations for how mobile money-enabled services will work. Governments in developing countries can leverage on this already evident success to provide efficient services through partnerships with mobile money providers to streamline their payments.

Based on their familiarity with mobile money and new technology brought about by the internet, here are some of the things that citizens wanted from government payments:

  • Clear, concise messaging and transaction notifications;
  • In-app or SMS mini-statements and acceptance of electronic receipts;
  • Improved user experience and customer service;
  • Instant reconciliation and quick dispute resolution; and
  • Creative transaction pricing to ensure inclusivity and transparency.

Overall, governments must keep up with ongoing improvements in mobile money offerings, and continuously adapt their payment and service interfaces to match citizens’ expectations and to leverage new opportunities. These new opportunities include improvements in payment technology platforms and increased adoption of smartphones.

Read the first blog in the series

Read a related blog on P2G payments

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