Ericsson faults awareness strategy for N150bn m-money industry

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While take-off activities continue to drag in the emerging mobile money industry, global technology vendor, Ericsson, has faulted the strategies being deployed by operators to drive mobile money penetration in Nigeria.

The Nigerian mobile money industry is estimated to be worth N150bn with the potential to grow to N300bn if the right policies are put in place.

In spite of this, experts have lamented the slow growth of the emerging industry.

The Vice -President and Head of Sales, Ericsson, Mr. Lars Arvidsson, said  though opportunities  abounded  in Nigeria’s mobile money industry, uptake would depend on the level of knowledge and trust the firms were  able to build for the system.

Ín view of this, he said traditional advertising currently being used by some of the licensed mobile money operators was not enough and called on them to move to the streets and teach  prospective customers how to use mobile money services.

This was the centre point of his presentation at the M-commerce round-table conference  organised by Ericsson in Lagos, on Friday.

The summation, according to him, stems from the findings of an Ericsson ConsumerLab study carried out in Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa and later in Nigeria.

The Country Manager, Ericsson Nigeria, Mr. Kamar Abass, who highlighted the mobile money opportunities available in the country, said, “M-commerce represents the leading edge of innovations that are sustaining and boosting momentum in Africa’s telecoms industry. This boost will be beneficial (as it has been with mobile voice and data’s growth) to other industry sectors as well, banking, retail and utilities, in particular.

“All stand to benefit from the transformational efficiency and productivity gains made accessible by these exciting, new applications.”

Based on in-depth, extensive interviews with mobile phone users in Ghana, South Africa, and Tanzania, the Ericsson Consumer Lab report found that consumers were constantly looking for new ways to improve their personal budgets.

Abass said the study also found that current behaviours and social structures indicated that the use of mobile payment services would expand but stressed that consumers needed more information about the functionality and security of m-commerce transactions.

Another conclusion of the report is that people who use m-commerce keep little separation between private and business accounts.

“Many consumers are entirely self-employed and are prompted to make transfers from private accounts for business purposes, so they gain experience with m-commerce,” the  Senior Advisor, Ericsson ConsumerLab, Mr. Anders Erlandsson, said .

He explained that experience led to greater trust, adding that the report found that 44 per cent of non-users of m-commerce were very worried about the integrity of their account information in case of theft or loss of their phones.

Erlandsson said, “Face-to-face introductions, when an agent meets consumer, are crucial. Just as personal access to a bank leads to higher acceptance of more abstract bank services, trust in mobile services also grows with personal experiences, rather than merely through advertising.”

While Point of Sale terminals, inter-bank transfer and cheques are already driving the cash-less system, mobile money has yet to make significant impact despite the fact that several millions of Nigerians have access to mobile phones.

The Principal Associate, Mobile Money Africa, Mr. Emmanuel Okoegwale, in view of this, agreed that mobile money industry growth in Nigeria had indeed been slow while faulting operators’ dependence on traditional advertising.

Mobile money adverts on television, newspaper and other media notwithstanding; Okoegwale insisted that the reality on the street was far from what the adverts were saying.

In : Technology

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