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59% of Nigerians unaware of mobile money – Report

By on August 23, 2013

Almost two years after the Central Bank of Nigeria introduced mobile money services to drive financial inclusion in the country, a new survey by NOI Polls has revealed that about 59 per cent of the populace are unaware that such services exist.

Mobile money enables monetary transactions to be done on mobile phones through text messaging.

Of the 41 per cent citizens that are knowledgeable about mobile money services, only 13 per cent have adopted it, indicating a very low adoption rate, according to the report.

The CBN introduced mobile money services to provide basic financial services and create payment access, especially to the unbanked, and also help to drive financial inclusion in the country.

Operations that can be carried out through mobile money include money deposit, bill payment, funds transfer and withdrawal, and payment for goods and services. It serves as an alternative way of storing money for both the banked and the unbanked.

The NOI Polls report showed that teenagers, young and middle-aged adults were more willing to utilise the services than senior citizens.

The report, which was made available to our correspondent on Wednesday, stated, “About six in 10 (59 per cent) Nigerians are not aware of mobile money services and only 13 per cent of the 41 per cent that are knowledgeable of it have adopted it, showing a very low adoption rate.

“Findings have also revealed that teenagers, young and middle aged adults are more willing to adopt the services than senior citizens.”

The survey, however, noted that all respondents who used mobile money services operated a bank account and that 93 per cent of them operated their mobile money accounts in connection with their bank accounts.

The report further stated, “This shows that mobile money services have not had any impact on the financial inclusion of the unbanked Nigerians so far. The general perception of users of the mobile money service as indicated by the majority is that it is easy to use, it is secure, service providers are easily accessible, it saves cost and it saves time.

“These are the key findings from the Mobile Money Services Snap Poll conducted in the week of August 5, 2013.”

The scheme has suffered slow adoption by Nigerians as the licensed operators of mobile money services have not made a significant headway in the deployment of the services across the states.

Some of the challenges the scheme has faced include low awareness and adoption; lack of finance and basic infrastructure; very few agents; and the exclusion of mobile operators from taking part in the execution of the services.

According to the survey, majority of the users (86 per cent) indicated ‘banks’ as their financial service provider.

This, according to the poll, may be due to the fact that licensed banks have been mostly given the responsibility to establish the services in Nigeria.

Relatively, 12 per cent indicated ‘mobile money agents’ as their provider and one per cent indicated other sources.

The report, however, concluded that mobile money services had great future adoption potential as 71 per cent of the respondents, who had yet to adopt it, were willing to give it a try in the future.

The report stated, “However, what is key to note is the almost non-adoption of this service by the unbanked, this can be detrimental to the success of the cash-less policy as a large percentage of the adult population remains unbanked.

“As Nigeria is currently transitioning towards being a cash-less economy, more awareness has to be created about the mobile money payment option with emphasis placed on including the rural population and unbanked Nigerians in the roll out process.”