The Mobile Money Leadership Group: Convening industry leaders for future success

In May 2024, the GSMA’s Mobile Money Programme held a closed-door roundtable with mobile money leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa. Known as the Mobile Money Leadership Group (MMLG), executives from Airtel Money, Axian Group, Orange Money, MTN Fintech and Vodacom gathered in London to re-establish dialogue between prominent global mobile money providers. While the MMLG has existed for many years, various changes – largely brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic – meant that such leadership meetings became more sporadic.

The MMLG has several objectives:

  • To enable regular dialogue for senior industry leaders a few times every year,
  • To provide a platform for mobile money providers to share challenges and explore collaboration opportunities,
  • To enable regular engagement between the mobile money industry and the GSMA, and
  • To provide strategic guidance for the GSMA Mobile Money Programme.

For the GSMA’s Mobile Money Programme, such industry engagement may lead to better industry knowledge and the ability to work closely with mobile money providers on pressing issues. Mobile money has steadily grown, with over 1.75 billion registered accounts as of December 2023. However, providers face several barriers to scale – some of which are broadly similar across major markets in Sub-Saharan Africa. Due to the difference in the type of business model, mobile money providers in Asia – many of which are largely bank-led – face different challenges compared to their African counterparts.

MMLG May 2024 attendees (left to right): Cedric Lemaire (Orange Money), Ashley Olson Onyango (GSMA), Reenu Verma (Vodacom), Nyiva Musyoka (GSMA), Kennedy Kipkemboi Sawe (GSMA), Erwan Gelebart (Axian Group), Ian Ferrao (Airtel Money), Rishi Raithatha (GSMA), Serigne Dioum (MTN Fintech) and Panos Loukos (GSMA).

Providers cited several challenges, including taxation, interoperability through national swtiches, and fraud and financial literacy. Among these, taxation remains a significant challenge for mobile money providers – particularly across Sub-Saharan Africa. Mobile money taxation policies often lead to poorly designed taxes that neglect the externalities that negatively impact mobile money users, who are often from marginalised communities. This can result in a reversal of financial inclusion gains and wider economic development achievements.

“After many constructive discussions between major mobile money players and the GSMA, bit by bit, we are closing the financial inclusion gap. I am encouraged by the GSMA’s commitment to do more for the mobile money industry, and look forward to doing my part in making the much-needed progress to fostering a conducive mobile industry environment.”

Serigne Dioum, Group CEO – MTN Fintech and outgoing Chair of the MMLG

Beyond topical discussions and establishing regular engagement opportunities, the MMLG members in attendance also agreed on a new Chair for the Group. Erwan Gelebart, CEO for Open Innovation and Fintech at Axian Group, was voted in by all members as the new Chair. He replaces Serigne Dioum, Group CEO of MTN Fintech, who last held the position before the onset of COVID-19. For the GSMA’s Mobile Money Programme, re-establishing the MMLG and installing a new Chair offers a renewed opportunity for regular industry engagement at the leadership level. The MMLG can complement ongoing engagements between the industry and the GSMA on policy, data and insights, and digital financial literacy, and drive future success for the wider industry.

“I am very happy with the productive discussions we had in the leadership group, and I feel humbled to have been appointed as chairman. I usually say – and I truly feel that way – that we are part of the kind of revolution that only happens every 50 to 100 years. We have done a lot and positively impacted hundreds of millions already by providing them with basic financial services. Now is the time for our industry to bring financial inclusion to its next phase by delivering the full scope of financial services populations need to rise and prosper. We will work as an industry on this and embark regulators, governments and key stakeholders in this journey and achieve financial inclusion for all.”

Erwan Gelebart, CEO – Open Innovation and Fintech at Axian Group and incoming Chair of the MMLG