Launching the GSMA Mobile Money Certification

Today, we are delighted to announce the launch of the GSMA Mobile Money Certification. Years in the making, this global industry initiative is the result of committed collaboration between many mobile money providers and the GSMA. It’s worth pausing for a brief reflection on how we got here, and the significance of this milestone for the industry as a whole.

The mobile money industry is now processing a billion dollars a day. It’s a serious business, serving hundreds of millions of people. The GSMA Mobile Money Certification reflects this scope and scale, and the responsibilities that come with it. The Certification is a major step forward for the global industry: it is a way to define and promote excellence in risk management. This will lead to greater trust, transparency, and consumer protection for millions.

Indeed, it has already done so. Five providers – Safaricom, Vodacom Tanzania, Tigo Tanzania, Orange Côte d’Ivoire, and Telenor Pakistan – have now certified. Collectively, they represent 98 million mobile money accounts.

The foundation of the Certification is the 2014 GSMA Code of Conduct for Mobile Money Providers. Four years later, we’ve moved from general overarching principles to nearly 300 detailed and specific criteria against which providers can be independently verified.
The Certification is the only global certification scheme designed specifically for mobile money providers. That’s why it is so relevant to the underserved, and why it covers key areas such as distribution networks and feature phones. Importantly, the Certification is not just for mobile operators. Any type of mobile money provider, including banks and over-the-top players, can apply to be certified.

The name ‘GSMA Mobile Money Certification’ reflects that the criteria have been developed by the GSMA, and are based on industry research and collaboration the GSMA has been uniquely positioned to enable. That said, independence is assured at all levels of the certification process. A professional certification management body oversees the Certification, including deciding and awarding certification status. Their decision is based on an audit by an assessment company with deep experience in emerging markets. The GSMA has no influence over the awarding of certifications.

The Certification criteria are not designed as an alternative to regulation. Some criteria, of course, will mirror elements of regulation. Overall, however, Certification is broader, more detailed, and more demanding. The bar has been set to challenge the best of mobile money providers – not all providers can or need to reach this level of excellence. If an organisation is not certified, this by no means implies that they are running an unreliable service. As the industry evolves, so too will the bar for passing the Certification, to ensure it remains a mark of excellence in risk management, and an aspiration for all providers.

No certification scheme can claim to fully eliminate risk. Risk is an inherent and necessary part of financial services. That said, the Certification is about ensuring strong protections are in place to anticipate, identify, and iterate in a way that keeps consumers safe, while allowing businesses to innovate and grow.

The full impact of the Certification? Time will tell. Trust and transparency are core ingredients of a healthy payments ecosystem, and the Certification aims to enhance both. That should facilitate greater interoperability, commercial partnerships, and more. Crucially, the impact of Certification should extend beyond simply those providers that can clear the bar. The criteria are a roadmap for all providers, big and small, and can thus help to improve practices across the industry.

This is a first take. We welcome feedback and debate on details within the Certification, and the level of excellence it demands. This is the start of a deeper discussion about risk management and consumer protection from which the entire industry stands to gain, and which we at the GSMA are committed to facilitating.

For more information, please visit our dedicated Certification webpage, and stay tuned for a series of webinars we will be hosting on Certification in the coming weeks. For information on becoming certified, consult the official Certification website, which is managed by the independent scheme operator, Alliances Management. In the meantime, please enjoy our official launch video below.