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Mobile Market Look: Tanzania

Tanzania

According to the Alliance for Financial Inclusion, mobile money accounts now outnumber bank accounts in nine African countries. Among them is the east African country of Tanzania – the next destination for MMIT’s Mobile Market Look series.


Tanzania is the second largest economy in east Africa and ranked the 6th most populous country in Africa, with just below 50 million people (2013). Although it remains one of the poorest countries in the world, the nation has a bright future with promising untapped potential. Mainly known for its gold exporting and tourism sector with Mount Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti, and the beaches of Zanzibar, the country has so much more to offer beneath the surface.

dar es salaam

Tanzania is growing at a faster rate then most of Sub-Sahara Africa. From 2001 to 2014 Sub-Sahara Africa has recorded annual GDP growth rates between 4% and 5%, while Tanzania has seen rates between 6% and 7%. Tanzania’s projected rates until 2017 are predicted to be 7% or higher annually. Over the years, Tanzania has transpired as a popular destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) initiatives due to the political stability, location, and favorable investment regulations. The country has also been a major beneficiary of the Bill and Melina Gates foundation and continues to improve in areas of human development. Emerging industries that are increasingly gaining attention and more investment within the nation include agriculture, natural resources, transport, financial services, telecommunications, and our focus – mobile payments.

Mobile Money in Tanzania

MOBILE_PHONE-IMAGE-e1378131623527Although Kenya is the undisputed trendsetter when it comes to mobile money, Tanzania has been one of the fastest and most successful markets to adopt mobile payments systems. The first mobile payment product in Tanzania was the Kenyan mobile money transfer service M-Pesa, launched by Vodacom in 2008 just one year after its debut in Kenya.

As of last year, Tanzania surpassed Kenya in terms of transaction volumes to become the leading country for mobile payments. Tanzania has exceeded Kenya in terms of mobile money usage in 2013. According to a report by the GSMA, 44% of Tanzanian adults used some form of mobile money compared to 38% in Kenya.

The total value of transactions in 2013 was $17.7 billion (USD), which accounted for over half of Tanzania’s GDP at 54%. The number of mobile phone subscribers also continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. Mobile phone penetration was approaching 70% at the end of 2014 with an annual subscriber growth rate of over 20%. In 2014, about 55% of Tanzania’s mobile subscribers use mobile money services, with over 16 million registered mobile money users. According to the GSMA, over 11 million of these accounts are active within a 90-day period and providers are processing more than 99 million transactions per month valued at over 3 trillion TZS ($1.8 billion USD).

Tanzania mHealth 500Mobile money products within Tanzania are quickly evolving serving the population with new innovative ways to carry out transactions, some never before seen in any other market of the world. Transactions are moving beyond the traditional airtime top-ups and money transfer options offered by the likes of M-Pesa to offer more mobile money payment capabilities. Tanzanian consumers now have a plethora of mobile money payment options for salaries, bills, utilities, fuel, insurance, bus passes, micro-financing, healthcare, physical goods, and beyond.

One of the newest innovations is an interest-earning mobile money product. Customers receive quarterly interest for storing money on their mobiles, a similar concept to gaining interest in a bank account. Tanzania seems to be quickly emerging as a target market for companies to pilot new mobile innovations due to the success of mobile money and favorable market conditions. Examples of new mobile innovations targeting Tanzania outside of mobile money initiatives include Facebook’s internet.org, Tigo’s music streaming service, or Ex-Apple CEO, John Sculley’s Obi Mobile smart phone brand.

Why has Tanzania been so successful?

Nearly 6 years ago, Tanzania had one of the highest population percentages of financially excluded citizens. Lack of trust, understanding, and access to formal banking systems are just some of the reasons people are unbanked. Mobile phone ownership rates have grown rapidly in the country and the majority of the population have access to a mobile phone, creating a favorable environment for mobile payments. According to the InterMedia FITS (Financial Inclusion Tracker Survey) study in 2012, even among underprivileged households of rural, unbanked, and poor (living on less than $2 a day) – 50% of these families had access to a mobile phone and owned a SIM card.

The Central Bank of Tanzania (BoT) is openly supportive of mobile money usage and is actively engaging in related initiatives in moving Tanzania towards becoming a cashless society. The use of financial services has doubled in the past 5 years due to the mobile surge. The BoT’s goal was to increase the share of the population with access to financial services from 27% in 2009 to 50% in 2015. This goal was not only achieved but was also exceeded in 2013 at 54% – achieved 2 years earlier than planned. Tanzania has been recognized as one of the leading countries of Africa for demonstrating a favorable environment and policy for promoting financial inclusion.

The mobile money industry is regulated under structures that differ from typical financial services providers. Major players within the industry work together – the Tanzanian government, mobile network operators (MNOs), and financial services – in collaboration to develop a sustainable mobile money framework. Industry consolidation of MNOs occurred in 2011 into 2012 due to price wars and to prevent market saturation.

Tanzania’s mobile money ecosystem is ripe for interoperability and could be one of the first countries to fully capitalize on the benefits. The four largest MNOs – Airtel, Vodacom, Tigo, and Zantel, have established partnerships with the BoT and the two largest banks – CRDB Bank and National Microfinance Bank. The purpose of these partnerships is to craft regulations for the industry and as a first step in the direction of interoperability.        

What is the future of Mobile Money in Tanzania?

The absence of interoperability remains a major impediment within the mobile payment industry. Interoperability is the ability for different information technology systems and services to communicate and exchange data. Without it, consumers suffer from lack of flexibility and accessibility to a wider array of services. Customers may receive mobile money from a different service than what they currently have, which may force them to travel a considerable distance to set up a new mobile money account, wait in line, cash-out, and then have multiple mobile money options on their phones.

rural tanzania

It is estimated that 75% of Tanzanians live in rural areas, which presents a challenge for any agent network system within the country. Based on a FITS user survey many consumers have experienced issues with the current mobile money provider agents, mainly issues of inconsistency, insufficient e-float, absenteeism, or insufficient help with transactions. The easier the payment structure, the more likely they are to use it again or continue to use on a frequent basis; this will ultimately result in an increase in overall transaction volumes.

However, as commonly seen throughout Sub-Sahara Africa, many industry players refuse to open up doors to competitors – even if it could be to their benefit. Additionally, several country governments within Africa exercise forms of protectionism placing restraints on players within the mobile payments industry and their roles within the ecosystem.

The next initiative for the BoT is to find a way to link all of these mobile money users with formal banking institutions to drive up the percentage of the financially included. Tanzanians no longer need to invest their money in livestock or jewelry, but can store value on their phones and now start earning interest. Services within the market are still highly competitive and are constantly looking to introduce new mobile money options to grab a higher market share. Such innovations are benefiting consumers and changing life as they know it.

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Ghana caption

AccraH-d1bf92b9-9b06-40bf-8f94-3d70442b4c4eGhana’s Mobile Landscape

The next destination in MMIT’s mobile market series is Ghana, a country that is populated by more mobile phones than people. Ghana presently has a mobile phone penetration rate of nearly 109%, one the highest in all of Africa. However, this statistic does not equate to every Ghanaian owning a mobile phone; this high percentage is due to people having multiple phones or SIM cards. Even so, this statistic is eye-catching to those in the mobile industry and Ghana is a country that should not be ignored.

Phones in GhanaThe actual number of unique mobile phone owners in 2013 was an estimated 15 to 16 million. Ghana continues to see rapid growth in the amount of mobile subscribers, and of all the Sub Saharan countries it is ranked 4th behind Kenya in amount of mobile users.

Ghanaian consumers are more connected to media content compared to other countries in Sub Saharan Africa, largely due to the fact that the country boasts the highest penetration of mobile broadband in the region. Data subscriptions are growing faster than voice and are the focus of players within the industry. Ghana’s telecommunications industry has 6 major providers: MTN, Tigo, Airtel, Glo, Vodafone, and Expresso.

Mobile GhanaThe Ghanaian Consumer 

The spread of media and technology has penetrated so deeply into the country that media touches even the most rural areas. TV, radio, and internet penetration rates exceed most of their African counterparts, while the more traditional newspapers and magazines lag behind. Mobile phones are predominately used for text messaging followed by voice calls and accessing the internet. Social media is extremely popular and ever growing in Ghana placing it behind South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya for most users. The presence of media greatly influences Ghanaians as they are easily swayed by packaging, advertising, and the reputation of a brand.

Ghana ED School

As seen throughout much of Sub Saharan Africa, Ghana has a youthful population, 56% of the 26.4 million residents are under the age of 25. The abundance of youth is the ideal environment for introducing the latest technologies as they are quick to adapt to innovations. Additionally, a large portion of the population is financially excluded. According to Fidelity roughly 70% of the adult population in Ghana is unbanked as of March 2014.

An unbanked population is an opportune environment for mobile payments, as people do not have bank accounts, lack trust in the banking system, and are at large a cash-based economy. Visa reported in 2013 that the Ghanaian market is one of the leading mobile money markets in the world. A survey that was conducted by the payment company revealed 93% of respondents were aware of mobile money options.

Although this may be an attractive market to enter, many mobile payment providers have failed to tap into the market due to its intricacies and barriers to entry.

Business and Economic Environment

Ghana was recognized in 2013 by the Economist as one fastest growing economies in the world. As a result, the country has attracted the interests of investors from all over the world. The political environment is stable and often considered a model for success in West Africa.

Unfortunately, this impressive growth has declined since early 2014 due to currency issues. Ghana has seen the world’s worst currency slide as the Cedi plunged 36% against the dollar this year. As a result of this currency crisis, inflation has spiked to a hefty 15%. This causes concern for entering the country as it effects foreign exchange rates and cost of goods to consumers.

cedi

This currency crisis has led to a rise in taxes on bank transactions. Fees can be as high as 17.5% as a VAT (Value Added Tax) rate, causing people to pull money out of the banks and close their accounts. This only furthers Ghanaian’s mistrust in the government and banking systems.

In light of these issues, many banks have been reacting to the crisis by revamping their brand images, adding new innovative products, and launching new mobile apps in effort to retain and attract customers. Many of these initiatives popped up at the beginning of 2014 and focus on reaching unbanked consumers or debuting never before seen value added services into the product mix.

These issues present an interesting opportunity for the mobile payment market, as people will avoid traditional banking methods or transactions with associated fees. Mobile money is a convenient way to address the unbanked and bring people into some form of financial inclusion.

With changes developing so quickly within the Ghanaian market it presents considerable barriers to entry and thereby furthering the difficulty of entering the market. Those who can successfully enter this market will reap considerable benefits, as the market is risky yet ripe with opportunity – particularly in the mobile sector.

Please check out our “Mobile Market Look” series for Kenya and Nigeria

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