MTN Group’s Nigerian subsidiary, MTN Nigeria, has put an end to months of speculation by officially launching its much anticipated mobile money super-agent service called “MoMo” through its Y’ello Digital Financial Services (YDFS) arm.
— MTN Nigeria (@MTNNG) August 29, 2019
— MTN Nigeria (@MTNNG) August 29, 2019
After months of preparation, Africa’s leading cellular telecommunications company finally unveiled the much-talked-about mobile money service in its largest market on Thursday, August 29, at the official launch which was held in Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.
In recent times, mobile money services have become quite popular across parts of Sub-Saharan Africa following a continuous increase in mobile penetration. A valid case in point is Kenya’s hugely-successful M-Pesa which is run by the country’s biggest telco, Safaricom. And MTN Nigerian can be thought to have its sights on achieving similar success with MoMo Money in Nigeria, its largest market, where it boasts over 50 million active subscribers.
You see, Kenya drove their Mobile Money initiative through Telcos, not banks. Thankfully, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Digital Financial Policy of 2018 reversed this policy to put Telcos in the driving seat. This should encourage wider financial inclusion for the poor.
— Dr. Joe Abah (@DrJoeAbah) August 27, 2019
Mobile money services typically help make cash transfers and payments via mobile phone connections. In essence, it offers services usually common with commercial banks to anyone with a working mobile line. With MTN super-agents soon to start popping up in every street and every corner, coupled with its mammoth subscriber base, MTN finds itself in quite a strong position to give traditional financial institutions a run for their money.
Here are some important points to note about MTN Nigeria’s new fintech operation:
- Customers send a text for free and get a response giving them a list of registered agents near them.
- Customers pay transfer sum to agents who in turn gives them a code to be transmitted to the receiver. The receiver goes to an agent near them and collects the cash.
- The sender will pay a service charge of NGN 100.00 for every transaction. Half of this will go to the sending agent and the paying agent will get the other half.
- The minimum amount that can be transferred is NGN 100.00 and the maximum amount is between NGN 50 K and NGN 100 K depending on the agent.
- The recipient must claim the money within 30 days or the voucher will expire.
With its extensive network of MoMo Agents, MTN is hoping to immediately get started on providing safe and accessible money transfer services to underbanked and unbanked people across Nigeria (estimated to be 36.6 million people), including places that are out of reach of commercial banks.
With MoMo Agent, MTN is bringing banking to neighborhoods, taking away transportation cost, and providing a safe, fast and efficient means of sending and receiving money, And by extension, the company will be supporting the ongoing efforts of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to steer the nation towards meeting its 20 percent financial inclusion target.
“We are fortunate to be part of the telecoms industry which underpins the digital economy and is critical to inclusive development and the future economic growth of this great nation. The launch of the YDFS MoMo Agent is especially significant to us,” Ferdi Moolman, the Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria said at yesterday’s event.
— ABUJA FACTS (@Abuja_Facts) August 29, 2019
Perhaps the only concern about the new fintech product from MTN is the NGN 100.00 charge that must be paid for every transaction. Compared to normal mobile phone transfers via bank apps or USSD codes which charge only NGN 52.00 for all inter-bank transfers, the MoMo agent service charge seems to be on the high side.
But this is hardly a problem as people inhabiting communities where banks are not accessible (and there’s many of them) easily spend way more than NGN 100.00 on transportation costs before they can reach the nearest bank. Also, there’s quite a lot of Nigerians in the unbanked category.
And with mobile network connection being particularly poor in some places, thus, hampering app/USSD bank transfers, MTN’s MoMo Agent does come as a gamechanger and a likely winner.
Featured Image Courtesy: MTN Nigeria/Twitter