Session 1: Mobile Money

Experimentation and impact of mobile money

Professor Pedro Vicente (Universidad Nova de Lisboa) opened the session by giving an overview of his long-term engagement in Mozambique on projects related to mobile money. There are some shared findings among his studies. On the one hand, mobile money is a powerful tool to foster household savings and remittances, while reducing a households’ exposure to risk. On the other hand, the availability of mobile money instruments could also imply more pressure to share resources within large households. The intervention of Professor William Jack (Georgetown University) focused more on Kenya, a pioneer in the mobile money space, due to the boom of ‘M-PESA’. Professor Jack highlighted how in a developing country context, mobile money can be powerful risk-spreading tool, as it allows families to exploit the full potential of an extended social network. The perspectives of two policymakers concluded the session. Mr Thomas Mabulambi, head of the operative division of the payments department at the Central Bank of Mozambique, explained how his home institution is trying to leverage on the financial inclusion potential of mobile money in the Mozambican context. Clearly there is no simple recipe to achieve this aim, as the Central Bank needs to protect consumers from excess risk and fraud while at the same time allowing innovations. Dr Adam Mugume, Executive Director of Research at the Central Bank of Uganda, shared these concerns and presented the Ugandan experience. In particular, he remarked how it is not clear whether mobile money regulations should pertain to central banks or to telecommunications authorities. In the future he said there is the possibility that a hybrid regulatory institution needs to be created for mobile money instruments, potentially raises the difficulties of service provision further.

Summary written by Novella Maugeri, Country Economist – IGC Mozambique