Certification for mobile money to enhance operations

A GSMA Mobile Money Certification will bring about safer, more transparent and more resilient financial services for millions of mobile money users, Nathan Naidoo-Head of Mobile Money, Mobile for Development at the GSMA, has said.

“A key ingredient in the success of mobile money has been trust. The certification will help take the industry to the next level by improving quality of services and customer satisfaction, facilitating the implementation of trusted partnerships, building trust with regulators and encouraging the implementation of appropriate and proportional regulatory standards,” he said.

Speaking at a press briefing at the GSMA Mobile 360 Series West Africa, which came off in Abidjan last week, Mr. Naidoo noted that with 690million registered accounts as of December 2017, and the processing of over US$1billion a day, mobile money has evolved into the leading payment platform for the digital economy in many emerging markets.

He explained that the certification, which is issued by Alliances Management – an independent certification management company – will now serve as a platform to enhance trust and empower consumers to make more informed choices about their financial services.

“This encourages mobile money adoption and advances financial inclusion. It gives assurances to potential financial partners that robust controls are in place, facilitating interoperability and encouraging integration into the financial ecosystem,” he pointed out.

With several mobile money service providers in Ghana – including MTN, AirtelTigo, Vodafone, GN Mobile Money, Zeepay and others – Mr. Naidoo noted that the potential to collaborate, innovate and integrate with business partners will be enhanced.

Ghana’s mobile money space has seen consistent growth since it began almost a decade ago. In 2017, the total value of transactions stood at GH¢156billion – representing a 98.5 percent increase from the 2016 value of GH¢78.5billion.

With almost a billion transactions in volume, representing a 78.4 percent rise from 550 million in 2016, the total balance on float has increased by 84.6 percent from GH¢1.3billion in 2016 to GH¢2.3billion in 2017.

Mr. Naidoo noted that with such rising figures, mobile money operators who get certified will prove they are serious about protecting the rights of consumers, delivering reliable and secure services, and combatting money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

The GSMA Mobile Money Certification, which is a three-year certificate, comprises eight principles and over 300 detailed criteria covering issues such as finance, Anti-Money Laundering (AMT) and fraud, people, operation, security, transparency, customer service and data-privacy. These eight principles are further divided into sub-principles.

The certification process includes self-assessment, remedy non-compliance, application, off-site and on-site assessment, and certificate issued.

Currently, about five players across the globe are certified: including Orange, Côte d’Ivoire; Safaricom, Kenya; Tigo Tanzania; Telenor Microfinance Bank, Pakistan; and Vodacom, Tanzania. These service providers cover 98 million accounts in four markets.

Nicholas Mulila, Director of Risk Management at Safaricom Plc, Kenya, explained that the certification is well above regulation.

“The moment you meet these criteria, you are well above what regulation requires of you. This is the high bar, the bar for excellence, where providers go well beyond regulation and achieve excellence. Regulation is the low bar, certification is the high bar,” he added.

He explained that with certification, telcos and banks who rely on agents to offer mobile money services will strengthen their Know Your Agent (KYA) systems and constantly train those agents on matters of anti-money laundering and fraud.

Candice Rato, Head of M-Commerce Operations at Vodacom Tanzania, added that since it is a three-year process, and subject to renewal or withdrawal, the operators’ goal is to continue excelling in service delivery and offer higher standards.

The GSMA Mobile Money Certification, according to Mr. Naidoo, results from years of collaboration between the GSMA and the mobile money industry to increase trust and transparency in the provision of mobile money services.

Beginning with the launch of the GSMA Code of Conduct in late 2014, the GSMA worked together with providers in Africa, Latin America, and Asia to understand the challenges of their business and best practices in these markets.

To develop the certification criteria, the GSMA led a three-year consultative process involving mobile money providers and independent expert consultants. The criteria were developed and tested through the self-assessments of 39 mobile money providers.