MoMo agents flourish despite broad unemployment

Source: B&FT Online

The total number of active mobile money agents grew by 21 percent to 608,000 in 2023, the recent FinTech Sector Report for 2023 published by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) has shown.

The figure represents approximately 88 percent of the 688,000 people employed by the state. This comes amid heightened conversation around unemployment.

According to data from the Quarterly Labour Bulletin of the Ghana Statistical Services (GSS), the average unemployment rate in the nation has increased to 14.7 percent during the first three quarters of 2023.

Within the same time frame, the count of unemployed individuals aged 15 to 35 surged from approximately 1.2 million to over 1.3 million, with consistently higher rates among females compared to males.

The statistics could have been worse, analysts argue, stating that the development in the mobile money sector has provided much-needed reprieve and points to the employment potential that a concerted approach to technology could bring.

Record year

Unsurprisingly,  Agent-to-Agent (A2A) transactions dominated the mobile money space, accounting for 30 percent of the total of GH¢1.9trillion in transactions during the year.

This comes as the number of registered agents grew by 17 percent over the previous year to a total of 816,000.

Third-party transfers, encompassing transactions between merchants and customers, comprised 16 percent of the total value, further pointing to an expanding role for mobile money in Ghana’s commercial landscape.

The nation’s burgeoning mobile money ecosystem also demonstrated rapid growth in both the consumer and commercial spheres, with Person-to-Person (P2P) and Business-to-Business (B2B) transactions gaining modest traction, reflecting the platform’s value for both personal and business needs.

The report notes that P2P transfers, which the BoG defines as: “Domestic peer-to-peer transfers (i.e: off-net and/or on-net) that were sent from one registered customer wallet to another registered customer wallet”, and  B2B – domestic business-to-business transfers that were made between a business and/or corporate registered wallet and another business and/or corporate registered wallets – accounted for six percent and five percent, respectively, the total value of transactions.

This comes as total registered and active customer accounts appreciated by 19 percent and 12 percent, respectively. The former closed the year at 65.6 million and the latter at 22.8 million.

Analysts say this suggests growing convenience and trust in mobile money for everyday commercial payments, and financial interactions and streamlining business operations within the country.

Further insights reveal the platform’s significance in promoting financial access. Cash-out transactions, representing 12 percent of value, underscored the demand for withdrawing physical cash from mobile wallets. Conversely, cash-in transactions stood at 11 percent.

Interestingly, despite widespread popularity, airtime top-ups do not factor into mobile money’s monetary value. This segment accounted for 19 percent of the volume of transactions, yet registered a negligible sum in terms of actual value.

However, such services remain crucial, bolstering the overall utility of the platform for users. To further deepen the segment, BoG has announced an increase in balance and transaction restrictions for customers’ mobile money wallets, effective March 1, 2024.

The adjustments involve higher daily transaction limits across various levels of mobile money accounts.

The lowest-tier account, previously restricted to GH¢2,000, will now allow transactions up to GH¢3,000. Medium-tier accounts, formerly capped at GH¢10,000, will now permit transactions up to GH¢15,000.

Likewise, the threshold for enhanced accounts, previously set at GH¢15,000, has been raised to GH¢25,000 per day.

Maximum account limits have also been raised, with the lowest-tier account increasing from GH¢3,000 to GH¢5,000, medium account limits rising from GH¢25,000 to GH¢40,000, and enhanced account limits climbing from GH¢50,000 to GH¢75,000.

Regarding monthly transaction limits, the lowest-tier account, previously capped at GH¢6,000, will now have a limit of GH¢10,000.

However, there are no alterations to the monthly transaction limits for medium and enhanced accounts.


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