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Mobile Money - Why such low activity rates?

CGAP have released a very interesting article this morning on customer activity rates for mobile money schemes which contains some condemning statistics for the industry. Of the 120 deployments that were live globally when the study was conducted only 11 had more than 200,000 active users, and active is broadly (perhaps generously?) defined as one transaction within the last 90 days. Some other figures of note:

  • Only 8% of signed-up customers were active in the survey
  • 80% of those active in month 1 were not active by month 3
  • The top 10% of agents had customer activity rates 40 times greater than the lowest 10%
  • 44% of customers are using the service for just one activity, despite others being available
  • Women are 40% more likely to use the service than men

This confirms that signing customers up in only half the battle. As written previously, it is crucial that mobile money operators design their services around the needs of their intended customers. And the only way to know what your customers want is to speak to them directly. It might seem an obvious statement, but this needs to be done up front as the initial customer experience will dictate whether they return to use the service again. Once the service is designed correctly then it must be marketed directly at those it is intended to serve.

The correct agent strategy is also key to success. What are the factors that determine why some agents have very high customer activity rates whilst others barely register any interest? When incentivising agents, it’s not just signing customers up that is important, but encouraging activity rates is too. And as last week’s blog suggests, making your service interoperable could also drive activity rates.

Low activity rates will mean that it will take mobile money services years to break even if at all. Designing the service correctly up front and marketing it at the right audience will be the difference success and failure.

Killian Clifford
CEO
Mobile Money Consulting

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Comments: (6)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 23 February, 2012, 09:31Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Why such low activity rates? Thinking as a customer, mobile money doesn't yet solve any problems for me, so why eould I move away from existing methods?

Killian Clifford
Killian Clifford - Mobile Money Consulting - London 23 February, 2012, 10:02Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

In emerging markets where people often have difficulty accessing financial services it solves many problems - so people in theory should have every incentive to use it

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 23 February, 2012, 10:17Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

True - but I'm in London. So, why would I use it? Apart from the cool factor, which wears off quickly

Killian Clifford
Killian Clifford - Mobile Money Consulting - London 23 February, 2012, 10:23Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

in developed markets it is just another channel to access your bank account so you perhaps have a point

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 23 February, 2012, 10:43Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Well that's me thinking as a customer - nobody's given me a compelling use case. Which I think is one of your points, Killian.

I do long for the day though, when my morning mantra switches from 'keys, wallet, phone, to just 'phone'.

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 24 February, 2012, 10:09Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

For both developed and developing markets, in their present form of being just another channel of accessing bank accounts, most mobile payments have compelling reason to adopt only if  (a) People have enough money (b) But can't find enough banks to park their money, and (c) The local regulator permits non-banks to enter the mobile payments business.

With the exception of Nigeria, Kenya and a few countries in Africa, the confluence of these factors doesn't seem to be happening anywhere else in the world. In developed markets, (a) and (c) might be applicable but (b) is not. In developing markets, roughly the reverse is true. 

No wonder mobile money has such low adoption rates in developed and developing markets alike.