Vodafone makes giant steps in the use of interoperability

Mobile Money Interoperability
Mobile Money Interoperability

Within the first six days of the launch of Mobile Money Interoperability, the platform recorded exactly 22,919 successful transfers, and more than half of that, 13,504 was on the Vodafone Cash platform.

In terms of the value of transactions on the interoperability platform, the total for the first six days stood at a little over GHC1.8 million and Vodafone alone recorded GHC1.17 million representing some 65% of the total.

The daily interoperability transactions report, obtained from the Ghana Interbank Payments and Settlements System (GhIPSS) indicates Vodafone Cash customer led in the interoperability transfers on daily basis for all the six days.

Meanwhile, for the six days, market leader MTN, which boasts of a whopping 76% market share in terms of active mobile money users, recorded 40,852 transactions with a value of GHC451,809.
The next in line was AirtelTigo, which currently run two separate platforms, Airtel Money and Tigo Cash.

Airtel Money recorded 12,783 transactions valued at GHC102,377, while Tigo Cash recorded some 6,1-6 transfers valued at GHC81,333.

General Manager for Technology and Operations at GhIPSS, Kwadwo Ntim told journalists that the transfers ranged from as low as GHC1 to GHC2,500 per transfer.

He said the trend is encouraging and gives them the confidence that interoperability will not only achieve financial inclusion but also drive the cash-lite society goal of the government.

Kwadwo Ntim hinted that the reason many Vodafone Cash customers may be using the interoperability platform could be because Vodafone has reduced their services fee to 0.5% instead of the maximum 1.5% discussed among stakeholders.

MTN Mobile Money for instance, charges exactly 1.5% service fee, while on-net transfers on MTN still cost 1%.

GhIPSS officials admitted that the 1.5% fee for interoperability transfers is not competitive compared to what other third party financial technology (FINTEC) solution providers like Expresspay charge.
CEO of GhIPSS, Archie Hesse said the 1.5% service fee may not have taken the third party fees into consideration so they will go back to the drawing table and reconsider it.

He is however confident that as transaction volumes grow, the service fee would automatically be dropping.

Currently, the interoperability platform allows transfers between mobile wallets on various networks and transfers between mobile wallet and bank account.

Kwadwo Ntim said within the next two months, transfers from bank accounts to mobile wallets on the platform would be made possible.

He said the philosophy behind the interoperability system is to ensure that all transactions are initiated from the platforms of the telcos, using the mobile phone, adding “that will ensure that more people will use the platform at the individual level instead of banks initiating transactions.”

Kwadwo Ntim said interoperability is disruptive, which means it could deny some players in the industry their jobs.

He explained that telcos are, for instance, most likely to end their cross-network money transfer relationships with the FINTEC companies and opt of the interoperability system where they have access to all banks in the country at a go, and that can be worrying for the FINTEC companies.

“But we have been engaging the FINTEC companies to discuss some of the downstream opportunities they can take advantage of using the interoperability platform because we are not going to go downstream at GhIPSS,” he said.

Some mobile money merchants have also been complaining about interoperability denying them of their business, but the GhIPSS CEO said, by regulation, merchants are not even supposed to transfer money on behalf of users but rather load wallets for customers to do their own transfers, and interoperability will not disrupt that.

He however noted that in the case where a customer decides to transfer money from his bank account into his mobile wallet, instead of going to a merchant to do so, that denies the merchant some business “but that is just part of change that merchants need to innovate around and stay in business.”

Archie Hesse is confident that interoperability will compliment mobile money in driving lots of cash into the banking system so that the state will have enough money for infrastructural development.

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