When the first Mobile Money service was launched in Ghana in 2009, the market probably wasn’t ready for full mobile financial services.
Around 70 percent of the population was unbanked, that’s according to the World Bank, and only an estimated 35 percent of the population owned a mobile phone.
However, the urban-rural divide was a clear market opportunity for low-cost domestic remittance services. Many Ghanaians moved to urban centres in search of work, hoping to send money back home to their relatives in the villages.
At first, Mobile Money operated in a similar way to a traditional money transfer business, but with a twist. Telephone companies operated a network of agents who would help customers process a money transfer via the agent’s own mobile money account.
As the services grew in popularity and mobile phones became more easily available, the telephone companies were able to register more people with their own Mobile Money accounts.
Today it is almost impossible to drive down a street in Accra and other cities, towns and even villages in the country and not come across a mobile money agent.
Sadly, however, these agents who are playing a crucial role in the country’s financial inclusion system are the targets of many armed robbers