Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of AZA Finance, Elizabeth Rossiello, has said that the gradual move to web-based payment solutions from telco-operated platforms will lead to enhanced efficiency, lowered cost and greater adoption of digital financial solutions on the continent.
Since its introduction in Africa almost 20 years ago, mobile money has evolved to become one of the preferred payment options – resulting in the continent accounting for 70 percent of the US$1trillion in mobile money processed across the globe in 2021, as the value of Africa’s mobile money transactions soared by 39 percent year-on-year from US$495billion in 2020 to US$701.4billion the following year.
But Mrs. Rossiello believes that in spite of the strides made by mobile money, the emergence of web-based solutions will drive competition as surmounting geographical barriers become easier; and customers will be the better for it. “Moving away from solutions offered primarily by telcos to web-based offerings takes it global, which makes it more competitive and better for the user,” she said in an interaction with the B&FT during a recent working visit to the country.
She added that building on Ghana’s recent markedly improved financial inclusion performance, which rose to 68 percent in 2021 from 58 percent in 2017 as measured by the 2021 Global Findex, will require significant investment to make the Internet more accessible across the country.
Noting that access to web-based FinTech solutions remains concentrated in urban and peri-urban centres, she said this highlights room for growth in the adoption of such services. “The Internet penetration rate is still relatively low, so it offers much room for growth as we do not have a lot of Internet access in the rural areas so they cannot access these web-based products. So for now, we see a heavy concentration on USSD products and similar telco-based solutions, but that will change as Internet access improves,” she stated.
According to analyses by the intelligence arm of GSM Association and digital technology consultancy, Kepios, the country’s Internet penetration rate stood at 53 percent at beginning of the year – from a total of 44.9 million cellular mobile connections. The rate places Ghana at number 12 on the continent.
Also in the country’s favour is the comparatively low Internet usage cost, as captured in the 2022 Worldwide Mobile Pricing report that surveyed 233 countries and territories and shows five of the 10 most expensive countries (US$10 or more for 1 gigabyte) to buy mobile data in the world are in sub-Saharan Africa – with the same amount of data selling at US$0.61 on average in Ghana.