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Mobile Money In Developing Countries: Closing The Gap

Poverty laden to middle-class developing countries offer the fastest growing markets.

MNOs with long-term vision have the opportunity to enter a growing market with the purpose of gaining a foothold, even if initially, revenue is slow.

With a service like mobile money that is used with a product not easily switched, like a mobile phone or bank, this is particularly true.

These markets can prove more profitable than expected in the long run, because of how useful the product becomes to customers.

The value: challenges in developing countries

According to MicroWorld, half of the world’s adults do not have access to basic financial services:

  • Almost 75% of adults who earn less than sixty dollars a month don’t have a bank account.
  • Compared to the 10% of people in developed countries who don’t have a bank account, more than 50% of the people in developing countries do not have a bank account.

Why is this so? There are a number of reasons:

  • They don’t earn enough to warrant a bank account.
  • Firstly, in poverty-stricken areas, there is a need for financial literacy so that people can make healthy financial decisions. They need to know which products are the most beneficial to them. In addition, where people earn very little, there won’t be a need to bank money and there is no extra cash available for savings.
  • Many people who live in developing countries do not possess formal identification documents which restrict them from opening a bank account.
  • Those who have access to virtual payment methods lack trust in the method; there is a need to provide empowerment about the service.
  • Not having access to a bank branch is another challenge for many people living in developing countries.
  • Irregular or unpredictable earnings makes formal banking an unrealistic option.
  • Unsuitable products not helpful to the needs of people in developing countries are offered by banking institutions.
  • Transactional charges are too high.
mobile money solution

Mobile money as a solution

As opposed to half the world’s population not having a bank account, in 2017, there were 690 million registered mobile money accounts; a growth of 25% from 2016.

In East Africa, M-Pesa (a mobile phone-based financial service) has 28.5-million users who are now able to transact in over 200 countries.

Dominating developing Africa, in just three months up to June 2018, M-Pesa handled 581 million transactions.

66% of the adult population in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda are already active users of mobile money.

For the unbanked, mobile money is a realistic solution: it’s secure, has the reach and is convenient.

Mobile money as a gateway

Mobile money has the potential to transform human lives, the economy, business and governments in developing countries.

McKinsey’s feedback about research conducted with field visits to Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Nigeria, and Pakistan, with over 150 expert interviews, shows that increased use of mobile money could increase the GDPs of all developing economies by 6% by 2025.

For mobile money to act as a gateway, what is needed is far-reaching mobile and digital infrastructure, a financial services innovation, and online products that meet the needs of both individuals and small businesses. The leveraging opportunities for MNOs are substantial.

Some regulators allow MNOs to issue mobile money if they apply for a license as an electronic money issuer or similar.

To close the gap of financial inclusion in developing countries, MNOs have the opportunity of offering mobile money as a service because they already have the infrastructure for mobile phone usage. In addition, they can scale up useful mobile financial tools that serve as catalysts for access to other productive and handy resources that match the needs of the people in developing countries.

business growth


Digital transformation has changed the way we do business and for MNOs especially, poses challenges for growth and sustainability.

Mobile money as a service in developing countries is an arena that should seriously be considered.

Adapt IT’s mobile money solutions empower complete mobile money transactions, from conversions, payroll ability, billing, airtime top-ups, international money remittance, and e-commerce merchant portal. In addition, MNOs are able to understand deep insights about the user behaviour when the solution is combined with CDRlive to enrich data, which allows for continual service improvements. 

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