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Financial inclusion remains low despite mobile money initiative- research

Feb 21, 2020, 2:53 PM | Article By: Jarra Cham

A  research team from the University of The Gambia has conducted a study on the mobile money adoption and use in The Gambia which found that financial inclusion remains low despite the mobile money initiative.

The research team of four received a research grant from the Partnership of Economic Policy (PEP) in 2018 to conduct the study in The Gambia.

However, the study on information and price as ‘barriers’ to the adoption and use of mobile money in the country has recently concluded and the result was shared by the team yesterday, at The Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Institute in Kanifing.

According to the research, lack of information about services available on the platform, high service fees, lack of trust and an insufficient number of agents are a variety of reasons for the low adoption of the mobile money services in the country.

“Understanding the reasons behind peoples’ reluctance to use mobile money services is essential for designing policies that can increase financial inclusion in The Gambia,” Dr. Hamidou Jawara, leader of the PEP research team said.

He said mobile money is seen as the economic game changer and despite its potential, there is still a low use of the services in The Gambia.

Mr Jawara said their study shows that policies or initiatives are needed to address both the lack of information and high perceived prices, adding that more awareness campaigns about the mobile money services is needed to encourage adoption of the service particularly among the poor.

“Designing price schemes that work for users may increase mobile money adoption rates which could lead to higher levels of financial inclusion,” he said.

Head of Qmoney financial services, Sirra Ndow said the data in the financial ecosystem is very low, adding that it would be wise for mobile operators to maintain consumer interest in the absence of data.

“When in business, you cannot neglect the interest of the customers. Attachment is a key part in making any stable business,” she pointed out.

Representative of the Central Bank of The Gambia, Fatou Deen said the importance of regulations on Digital Financing Services (DFS) and mobile money services is to help ensure that consumers’ funds are protected and also build public trust and confidence.

“Regulations on DFS also provide a level playing field in the service providers industry and the formalisation of the informal sectors,” she said.

According to the team of researchers, an analytical administrative data from Qmoney was done and in order to capture changes in the knowledge and attitudes towards mobile money, the team also conducted a baseline and post treatment surveys to capture these changes.