Asoko Sector Brief – Côte d’Ivoire Mobile Money Q3 2017

While Kenya remains the most notable success story for mobile money, Côte d’Ivoire is catching up, with a number of operators rolling out new services, from loans to transactions.

The most recent move came in December 2016 when MTN - one of the country’s three bank-affiliated mobile money providers - announced a new partnership with Kenya’s Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA) through its MTN Mobile Money (MTNMM) arm. First launched in October 2009, MTNMM will provide the platform through which CBA can roll out its mobile credit service, M-Shwari.

The agreement marks the first time a Kenyan lender will enter the West African market, and will be the first mobile loan service in Côte d’Ivoire. The platform will become operational before the end of the year.

Mobile money is nothing new in Côte d’Ivoire. The West African Economic and Monetary Union (Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine, UEMOA), of which Côte d’Ivoire is a member, passed enabling legislation in 2006, paving the way for mobile money. The first to launch was mobile operator Orange’s service, Orange Money in 2008, followed by MTN Mobile Money in October 2009 and Flooz, the mobile money vehicle of Maroc Telecom-owned Moov, in January 2013. Two third party operators, CellPaid and Qash Services, also launched in 2011 and 2013 respectively.

Since then, the sector has moved well beyond simple money transfers. MTNMM introduced the country’s first contactless payment platform in October 2016, MoMo Tap, which was rolled out at a number of retailers, primarily supermarkets. Similarly, in January of this year Orange Money partnered with Vivo Energy to allow for fuel purchasing across more than 1000 stations throughout Francophone West Africa.

The impacts of these new services in terms of expanding mobile money activity have been significant, standing in notable contrast to the more modest gains providers have seen in other regional economies. While around just 2% of Nigerians are registered mobile money users, 32% of Ivorians have accounts, according to World Bank and ARTCI data.

Currently, more than half of UEMOA’s mobile money transactions take place in Côte d’Ivoire. Statistics from the Côte d’Ivoire Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Autorité de Régulation des Télécommunications/TIC de Côte d’Ivoire, ARTCI), reveal that an average of $19.7 million worth of mobile money transactions take place each day. By comparison, Kenya – which has seen the greatest success in mobile money uptake – records around $28.9 million daily, although Kenya’s population is roughly twice as big as that of Côte d’Ivoire.

The growth in the Ivorian market comes in large part from the sizable unbanked population, which is equal to four-fifths of the adult population, and a mobile penetration of 113%. Furthermore, the sector has benefited from supportive government policies: since an agreement was signed between the Ministry of Education and mobile money operators in 2014, for example, almost all Ivorian school fees are paid through mobile money. 

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