World Bank: A Decade of Mobile Money Growth Reveals Potential for Digital Financial Inclusion in the WAEMU

Posted on Jun 21, 2023 by Maimouna Gueye, Senior Financial Sector Specialist, World Bank Group

Zeyna, a student in Félix Houphouët-Boigny University in Abidjan, will no longer need to stand in line for hours to make a cash payment to the school’s registrar’s office to secure a seat in the next term. Thanks to mobile money she can directly pay registration and tuition fees instantly. She also has a payment card connected to the same mobile money account, making it easy for her to buy her weekly groceries in Adjame, the largest market in town.

In Africa, mobile money helped build resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic

Mobile money continues to grow rapidly, bringing a suite of financial products to the fingertips of hundreds of millions of users and disrupting traditional financial services. From Dakar to Nairobi, Cairo to Cape Town the mobile money wallet is serving the needs of individuals and businesses, helping solve daily challenges.

Mobile money has proven most efficient during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns, curfews, and social distancing undoubtedly saved lives, but these necessary actions also constrained businesses and economies. Communities suffered from the loss of jobs and livelihoods, the closure of schools and markets, and damage to businesses, many of which included vulnerable men and women who received digital transfers as part of social safety net programs. In Togo, thanks to the NOVISSI program more than half a million men and women, considered vulnerable, received social payments through mobile money, allowing them to cope with emergencies.

Mobile money has laid a firm footprint in the WAEMU region, with countries like Burkina Faso even surpassing Kenya in share of GDP

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) accounts for 763 million registered mobile money users out of 1.6 billion globally, followed by South Asia (336 mil), East Asia (361 million), and Latin America (57 mil).[1] The West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU)[2] accounts for 17% of the SSA volume, where the rise of mobile money adoption has been groundbreaking in the past years.

Recent data from the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) indicate that ...

[1] GSMA, Mobile Money State of the Industry, 2021

[2] Region comprising Benin, Burkina, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Guinea B, Niger, Senegal, Togo. Population: 130 million

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