Focus on one positive impact of COVID-19 on the financial services sector

MTN Group Ltd said the COVID-19 pandemic has helped to accelerate the adoption of mobile financial services across Africa. The Johannesburg-based telco, which is the parent company of MTN Nigeria, recently launched its MOMO service which is focused mainly on reaching a lot of the unbanked populace in Nigeria and elsewhere.

A statement made available by the company, as seen by Nairametrics, noted that cashless transfers have been among the best methods for curtailing the spread of the virus. This explains why a lot of people in Africa now rely on it.

MTN Group’s executive director in charge of mobile money services, Serigne Dioum, was quoted to have said:

“As many countries adopted partial or total lockdowns, we witnessed an evolution in the type and volume of Mobile Money transactions. We saw a significant increase in MoMo Pay merchant and bill payments despite an initial decline in Mobile Money agent transactions due to the restrictions. However, we have already started to see a gradual increase as restrictions have been eased.

“These changes, triggered by COVID-19, have enabled the acceleration and scaling of cashless and digital economies. They support our ambition to transition to an end-to-end platform, creating a digital marketplace and connecting consumers to businesses, and businesses to businesses.

“We see this as a significant opportunity to change the outlook for affordable, inclusive, understandable and comprehensive financial services in Africa and the Middle East.”

Partly due to this development, Africa has witnessed the fastest growth rate for mobile money use in the world, the statement by MTN said.

It should be noted that before the advent of mobile financial services, many Nigerians (and Africans) were unbanked. No thanks to their lack of education, limited financial resources, and rural living environments, many people were inadvertently excluded from accessing financial services such as access to credit facilities. However, the story is different today due to the activities of fintechs and other mobile financial services providers such as MTN.

The MTN MOMO service was launched in Nigeria back in August 2019, with the hopes of replicating the same success Safaricom’s M-Pesa has recorded in Kenya.

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