The volume of mobile money transactions conducted in the first nine months of this year has surpassed one billion, a 50 percent increase in the figure recorded in the same period last year, data released by the industry regulator, Bank of Ghana, have shown.
According to the Bank of Ghana, the volume of mobile money transactions stood at 1,027,794,484 – the first time one billion transactions have been recorded in a single calendar year.
The value of transactions means the total amount of monies sent using mobile money stood at GH¢160billion as of September 2018.
When compared to the same period last year, the value of mobile money transactions went up by 46.54 percent – underscoring the popularity of mobile money as an important avenue to engineer financial inclusion in underserved areas.
The data also revealed that the total number of registered mobile money accounts in the period under review was in excess of 31.4 million, out of which the active accounts – which is defined as having undertaken at least one transaction in the past 90 days – stood at 12.5 million.
In 2012, the number of registered mobile money users stood at a paltry 3.78 million. This shows that between 2012 and the first half of 2018, the number of registered users increased by 693.69 percent.
Several experts have lauded the surge in mobile money usage, noting that mobile money has deepened financial inclusion, and has – for the first time – brought millions who were not banked into the banking and formal financial sector.
In May, government went a step further to launch mobile money interoperability – which allows the transfer of money from one network to another without going through a third party or agent. Since the launch, interoperability has seen 1,118,315 transactions in volume and GH¢104.85million in value.
Taxing mobile money
Despite mobile money’s acclaim for deepening financial inclusion, government has continued to hint that there is a possibility of taxing the sector to generate revenue. This move has seen experts and advocates criticise government for trying to be a kill-joy, and could see usage drop due to the associated cost.
Deputy Minister of Finance, Kwaku Kwarteng, speaking at an event in Accra few months ago, said even though government has not made any decision in the coming budget to impose additional taxes on mobile money as has been suggested – and even if at all government is minded to introduce any taxes related to mobile money, it [government] will do so sensitive to the consequences and make sure that the balance is right.
Akinwale Goodluck, Head of sub-Saharan Africa at GSMA – the global body that represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide – told the B&FT earlier this year that imposing any form of tax on mobile money transactions would be a major drawback to the financial inclusion agenda championed by government.
“I am very concerned whenever there is any indication that government or anybody wants to take any step that may inhibit the growth of mobile money. When you tax mobile money, you are taxing the people who are probably the most excluded in mainstream financial service.
“There is a strong likelihood that this will be a disincentive for people to use mobile money, and it could reduce mobile money adoption and increase the divide in terms of financial inclusion. Mobile money is an enabler. It helps financial and social inclusivity. It would be particularly burdensome for anybody to impose a tax on mobile money transactions,” he said.