While we are all in lockdown many of us will have invested in new tech to make working from home more efficient or taken part in a video quiz for the first time to keep socialising in isolation. But imagine living without fixed line internet or wifi, few if any cashpoints and limited access to banks for financial services.
This is everyday life for millions in sub-Saharan Africa. But where there is a challenge innovation comes to the fore.
Mobile networks are providing the answer to access to finance. Mobile money. Financial and economic developments are being driven by mobile money in the region to the extent that mobile phone developers and wireless network operators are outperforming the banks of sub-Saharan Africa in providing financial services, primarily access to different forms of liquidity. Across Africa mobile phones are replacing bank accounts.
The engagement of millions of individuals and households into the banking sector through microfinance organisations predominantly (mobile money providers) will not just provide financial inclusion and freedoms at an individual level, but it also has a broader economic impact giving business access to a growing market.
In short mobile money has become a way to address the major shortcomings of these economies. Where the banking networks are traditional to the point of being significantly behind the tech curve your mobile operator is your bank.
James Wilson, Headland