LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 SERIES – AFRICA, KIGALI: Executives discussed the importance of trust in the delivery of mobile financial services, including the different ways in which it can be manifested.
Raul Martinez, CCO and VP of Strategy and Digital at Millicom Africa, said “as a mobile operator in the region, trust and privacy is something that has been in our agenda for a long time”. He noted data protection and privacy policies in place across the group’s operations, along with support for the GSMA’s mobile money code of practice and certification.
“We see trust as bigger than just privacy,” he said. “You can see it in two ways: trust is trust earned in your own actions, and there’s also trust you earn by your reputations and who you associate with. In terms of who do we associate with, we’ve recently launched quite successful partnerships with the likes of Mastercard; we’ve launched partnerships with Uber, which is also a worldwide, known tech company; and we’re about to launch payments through Google Play app store.”
Rachel Balsham, deputy CEO of MFS Africa, said as a “network of networks”, the company has a role to play in connecting trusted partners.
“When we connect money transfer operators across the globe to mobile network operators in Africa, those partners trust us to connect only licensed, regulated partners who have the required approvals to do the services they operate in their jurisdictions. And that those partners before they are connected go through an extensive due diligence process with our internal compliance team, and then once those partners are connected we continue to engage in screening, monitoring and auditing,” she said.
Settor Amediku, who oversees payments systems for Bank of Ghana, discussed the role regulators and central banks have to play.
“We came up with electronic money issuers guidelines, which clearly defined what operators need to do to engender consumers’ trust. For instance, customer fund management, float management there were clear conditions how it needed to be managed. Liquidity: when customers go to an agent point, they must have access to their funds. Then what we are doing in the central bank is to develop agent registry that has data on all agents in the country,” he said.
Availability is another factor which can impact trust in a mobile money service.
Serigne Dioum, head of mobile financial services at MTN, explained: “If you want to operate properly, you need to have a robust platform. And it’s not only the platform: all the logistics around maintenance, the operational model, everything. Maybe in the early stages we used to have some downtime, but in MTN now in Uganda I think we’ve celebrated 250 days without any mobile money downtime.”
Martinez added: “Problems can happen. We live in countries where there are power outages, things can fail, but it’s how fast you respond, having backup capacity, that’s what I think gives the confidence to customers.”