Mobile Money interoperability must come with robust systems — Economist

If interoperability of mobile money will be successful, then measures must be put in place to ensure a robust system that will fight fraud and guarantee the safety of depositors’ money, Head of Economics Department at the University of Ghana, Professor Peter Quartey, has said.

His comments come on the back of the launch of mobile money interoperability yesterday in Accra, which will now make it possible for mobile money transactions to be done across all mobile networks.

In an interview with the B&FT, Prof. Quartey said the mobile money interoperability has the potential of being a game changer in the economy if the right systems are put in place.

“It will have significant impact on the economy, but it depends on how ready we are for it; how robust our systems are. Once you have interoperability, it becomes easier for people to transfer funds from one network to another,” he said.

“You know, we have a lot of people who are outside the banking system, so once you make it easier for them to be able to engage in some form of financial transaction, that will significantly enhance financial intermediation, which is good for economic growth and prosperity,” he added.

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Serious consideration, he said, must be given to the robustness of the interoperability system as it will bring a lot of confidence in the mobile money market.

“If our systems are not robust enough; if there is an error and it is difficult to rectify, and your money locks up somewhere within the chain, and you cannot track your funds, it will make people lose confidence in the system, and that can have repercussion on the economy. So, my point is that, it will have significant impact as long as our systems are robust,” he said.

Another major concern regarding mobile money transactions is the issue of fraud. It is estimated that about 50 percent of mobile money subscribers have either experienced one form of fraud or have been a target of it.

Prof. Quartey said safety measures must be in place to combat fraud so that subscribers do not lose trust in the mobile money interoperability.

“The criminals are always ahead of us, but this time, we must be ahead of them because, once they are ahead of us, confidence begins to wane and that is not good. Already, we have issues in the banking sector and we don’t want to add to the already tensed situation.

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So, the system must be safe so that criminals do not get their way and, when there is a problem, it is quickly addressed so that there will be confidence in the system,” he said.

The mobile money market is seeing tremendous growth in the economy, and many think it is about the best means to bridge the financial inclusion gap.

The total value of mobile money transactions done in the first quarter of the year reached GH¢52billion, a more than 68 percent growth over the figure recorded in the same period last year.

According to the Bank of Ghana, in the first quarter of last year, mobile money transactions valued some GH¢31billion, while the total volume of transactions reached 198.2 million.

Within the first three months of this year, the volume of transactions climbed to 312.9 million.

The figures contained in the 2018 first quarter Payment System Statistics revealed that as at March 31, 2018, there were more than 11.24 million active mobile money accounts out of the over-25 million registered accounts.

 

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