While the bulk of retail bank operations in Côte d’ Ivoire are still conducted through traditional branches, digitalisation has already revolutionised the sector, and there is little evidence that this trend will slow down as technology penetration continues to rapidly expand. Individuals have been able to carry out basic transactions using their mobile phones for a number of years, and small businesses are now increasingly able to make use of such services too.
Meanwhile, the range of mobile banking products available to consumers continues to increase. Until recently, people were limited to using mobile banking only for lodgement, withdrawal and payment transactions. Microfinance lending through mobile money platforms was permitted for the first time in mid-2017, while the number of financial products available digitally is likely to expand significantly over the coming years. Online payment models have given rise to other e-services, with the state rolling out the e-Impôt platform in late 2017 to allow people to pay their taxes digitally.
By The Numbers
While the proportion of adults with a bank account stands at around 16%, the mobile phone penetration rate was 113% in 2016. As it is easier to get a mobile phone than a bank account, the advent of mobile money has been a key driver of financial inclusion. As of January 2018 there were around 10m mobile money accounts, equal to about 40% of all Ivorians.
Transactions have been increasing exponentially in recent years, and according to Bruno Koné, minister of digital economy, daily financial transactions via mobile money totalled CFA17bn (€26m) as of January 2018. As of September 2017 Orange has managed to retain its dominant market position, with 65.4% of all mobile money subscribers, followed by MTN, with a 26% share, and Moov in third place, accounting for the remaining 7% of subscribers. Orange generated CFA11.8bn (€17.7m) in revenue in the third quarter of 2017, while MTN recorded CFA3.4bn (€5.1m). Comparable figures for MOOV were not available as of January 2018.
While the telecoms companies have been leading the charge in providing mobile money services over the past decade, all the major banks are preparing comprehensive plans to launch – or have already commenced – their own mobile services. At the same time, efforts are being made to overcome inter-operability challenges with the different telecoms networks. For example, 2016 saw the launch of SOGEPAY, the new mobile banking service of Société Générale de Banques en Côte d’Ivoire (SGBCI). SOGEPAY is the result of a collaborative effort between SGBCI and MTN. For its part, Ecobank recently introduced its Masterpass QR product, a mobile payment system developed in collaboration with Mastercard.
“Financial integration will develop as telecoms operators and financial establishments focus on collaboration instead of competition. Mobile money interoperability, for example, will eventually benefit service providers and clients alike,” Jean-Luc Konan, chairman and CEO, Groupe COFINA, told OBG. Banks are also investing significant amounts in technology so as to upgrade their mobile banking platforms, and thereby offer better service and more products to their clients.
Borrowing On The Go
Established in 2016, local mobile money lender Celpaid is at the forefront of the latest wave of digital banking products, being the first firm to marry mobile money with microfinance in Côte d’Ivoire. By mid-2017 Celpaid counted 14 offices around Abidjan and 5000 savers, of which 300 were also borrowers. By the end of 2017 the firm was targeting a network of 40 branches in the main cities and total lending of CFA1bn (€1.5m). “We think that mobile microfinance is about to take off in Côte d’Ivoire. There are already big firms like Orange and MTN, which offer mobile money services, and there are a lot of micro-finance providers,” Paul Gbobia, director-general of Celpaid, told OBG. If this model gains traction, it is likely that other banks and mobile money operators will seek to follow by also offering loans to their customers.
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