Consumers urged to turn away from cash in virus fight - Mobile World Live

Consumers urged to turn away from cash in virus fight

26 MAR 2020

Authorities and mobile operators across several countries moved to persuade businesses and consumers to adopt mobile payments and other digital transactions, in an attempt to reduce transmission of Covid-19 (coronavirus).

Although evidence of the virus being spread on banknotes is being questioned, statements from a number of parties over recent days highlighted the advantages of mobile financial services in reducing face-to-face interactions.

Following moves in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ghana last week to cut costs and ease regulations around mobile money services, operators in several other African countries introduced similar policies to drive usage in their markets during the ongoing pandemic.

After initially cutting mobile money fees in Uganda, Rwanda and Ghana, MTN Group announced its operation in Nigeria was set to waive transaction fees made through its agent network. Its units in South Africa, Zambia and Cameroon are suspending fees up to specified limit, which varies by market.

In addition to MTN, all operators in Zambia have been instructed by the country’s central bank to increase limits and temporarily cut fees on person-to-person transactions below ZMW150 ($8.40).

Various Orange operations individually announced measures to snip selected mobile transaction fees, including in Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Senegal.

In a statement to Mobile World Live, Vodacom Group confirmed it was in discussions with regulators covering its International division (operations outside of South Africa), and would “announce measures shortly”. Its Safaricom business already reduced fees in Kenya.

Airtel Africa also cut fees in some of its markets, including Uganda and Rwanda, in line with government initiatives.

Governments
As operators seek to encourage the use of mobile payments, a number of governments have also been pushing the use of digital and mobile payments.

Egypt Independent reported authorities in the country were upping contactless payment limits, while costs were being reduced on cash transfers through mobile platforms.

Other authorities, including UAE and Russia have also encouraged the use of mobile payments in a range of media interviews, but are yet to formally unveil specific regulation.

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Chris Donkin

Chris joined the Mobile World Live team in November 2016 having previously worked at a number of UK media outlets including Trinity Mirror, The Press Association and UK telecoms publication Mobile News. After spending 10 years in journalism, he moved...

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