This diagnostic was carried out by the MM4P, in collaboration with the Zambian Ministry of Finance, in order to map the landscape of payments of the Government of the Republic of Zambia and to identify which payments are made in cash and what proportion is digitized. The diagnostic used a methodology designed for the Better Than Cash Alliance that has been used in five other countries.
The process for this diagnostic was carried out by the MM4P programme, in collaboration with the Zambian Ministry of Finance,, in order to map the landscape of payments by the Government of the Republic of Zambia and to identify which payments are made in cash and what proportion is digitized. The diagnostic used a methodology designed for the Better Than Cash Alliance that has been used in five other countries.
Digital money today or cash tomorrow?
Coffee is Uganda’s top-earning export crop. Most importantly, it is estimated that approximately 20 percent of the entire population earn their cash income from coffee.
The coffee season in Uganda begins in July or August and, depending on the rain, stretches up to January or February. In this period, coffee farmers travel to the washing station every day and often several times per day. With their laborers, they harvest and, at half crop, send someone from the family to the washing station to have the coffee weighed against a receipt for the payment. At the end of the day the story repeats itself.
The waiting time is between three and four hours to get paid in cash, as the same individual who verifies the weight is authorized to make the payment. And the two tasks have to be performed separately.
The washing station is busiest at the end of the day between 3pm and 8pm. The waiting time stretches till night falls and payments can only be processed the next morning, which means another trip to get paid.
Farmers are under pressure to pay quickly. Laborers do not like to be paid the next day, food has to be bought today, school fees have to be paid on time. Considering that schools are generally very far from the village, travel and lodging expenses also sum up.
Plus, farmers worry about security. Carrying cash around can be challenging when it is obvious that you just received a big payment. Getting robbed on the way home is thus another big worry.
Cash is not always instantaneous, after all!
In 2015, UNCDF MM4P partnered with Kyagalanyi Coffee Ltd, a leading coffee company in Uganda, to digitize the payments to its 7000 farmers around Mount Elgon.
The main difficulty was that there was no electricity or network on the scenic slopes of Mount Elgon, therefore no phone. How do you roll out digital payments without electricity, network and phones? You team up.
MM4P brought together MTN, Yo Uganda and Fenix. MTN provided network coverage and mobile money services, whereas Yo Uganda designed the bulk payment solution and Fenix offered subsidized phone loans and solar charging solutions to the farmers.
Thanks to the new network and the phones, Kyagalanyi can communicate real-time prices to the washing stations, where larger volumes of coffee are now delivered. Staff are paid digitally and have become the ambassadors of digital payments in the community of farmers.
On the farmers’ side, the Kyagalanyi-MTN-MM4P partnership has changed their experience with payments by offering new options.
Today, farmers can choose to be paid for the coffee partially or entirely in mobile money on the basis of the receipt released at the washing station. Since last August, small-holder farmers have the option to access a new digital financial service through their MTN subscription: MoKash. Thanks to MoKash, they can save and borrow for immediate needs – ex. to buy spray of fertilizer or cans, and to pay laborers – as well as for school fees, which can be paid via mobile money.
Since last October, to encourage uptake of the digital services that come with a cost for farmers, those who chose to be paid digitally are pre-reimbursed the withdrawing fees in mobile money. This has proved to be a great incentive to try out complementary mobile money services such as saving via MoKash, performing peer-to-peer transfers and buying airtime.
To facilitate the uptake, a trained network of 129 agents was deployed in the Mount Elgon villages. A management information system (MIS) was piloted to keep real-time track of agent float & cash balances. As a result of a reliable agent network, approximately UGX 190,000,000 (USD 53,000) had circulated within the agent network in the first month of the MIS deployment.
Community trainings on how to use the services were rolled out. Furthermore, farmers benefit from a 50% to 100% bonus on loading airtime – you top-up UGX 3,200 (USD 0.89), MTN loads UGX 3,200.
Among the farmers who are now active users, those who chose to be paid in mobile money can leave the washing station as soon as they have the paper receipt. They receive the corresponding value plus the equivalent to the withdrawing fees instantaneously, as soon as the washing station manager starts to process the payments.
Nowadays in the slopes of the Mount Elgon, farmers who go to the washing station every day during the coffee season are now experiencing the option that comes with digital finance. As they have their coffee weighed, they are asked: “do you prefer to be paid digitally today or in cash tomorrow?”.
M-Dorado: Fact or spoof ?
Have you ever heard of M-dorado? The all-digital heaven, where digital financial service (DFS) transform - improve- people’s lives, make it easier and more affordable to do business, enhance transparency and defy corruption and bad governance. Without jumping the gun, you can say Africa is well on its way to M-dorado. Take Kenya: in 2015, over 15 million M-Pesa mobile money accounts were active and over 58% of the country’s adult population used a digital wallet. At the same time, more than 43 % of Kenya’s GDP was actually transacted via Safaricom’s M-Pesa. Today, there is little you can’t do with M-Pesa in Kenya: buy airtime, send money, settle bills, buy groceries and services, borrow money, withdraw cash, and so much more …
Benin, like most African countries, is NOT Kenya. But the digital revolution is about to happen also in this West African republic! On January 19, 2017, Cotonou hosted the first DFS Working Group of this year. This physical peer-to-peer learning platform set up by UNCDF-MM4P was chaired by Benin’s Ministry of Economy and Finance and the national representation of West Africa’s Central Bank (BCEAO). DFS are expanding in Benin. In 2015, over 1 million e-wallet accounts were active, and DFS active use ratio was over 30%.
The DFS Working Group’s meeting gathered the industry’s major stakeholders: financial services and telecoms regulators, mobile operators, microfinance institutions, banks, etc.; a sign that interest in digital finance can no longer be debated. Another sign that is rarely deceiving was the intensity and quality of the exchanges. The meeting started off with a session on fundamentals of digital finance, so all participants could be on the same page on concepts and definitions. Then came a session on the legal and regulatory framework in digital finance. Participants discussed present regulations in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) on digital payments and requirements imposed to mobile money providers. They also brainstormed on Benin’s present regulations in banking and DFS, and looked into compliance and local AML regulations.
Participants then had an extremely rich discussion on DFS’s potential to boost financial inclusion. How do we fast-track new - and working- types of partnerships and products to better address clients’ needs, and boost adoption of DFS for low-income populations?
Last, the meeting focused on challenges/constraints to the adoption of DFS, and notably users’ fear of mis-manipulation (how to get your money back when you send it to the wrong number), or protection against cyber criminals. Many suggestions were made: setting up supporting measures to better manage complaints, improving user interface, menus and functionalities on mobile devices, partnering with police services in charge of cyber-criminality or running massive customer education campaigns.
Here is another positive sign: discussions ended on a consensus to create sub-commissions to follow up on suggestions and, in occasion of the next DFS Working Group meeting, to propose concrete actions to addressing them. All that to demystify digital finance, to boost its adoption and guarantee user security.
M-dorado, here we come!!!
Digitising Social Security Allowances in Nepal
The previous post described the current method of payment of social security allowance (SSA) in Nepal and highlighted its perks and drawbacks. This new episode presents a pilot project to digitise SSA payments and discusses a few preliminary insights, ahead of drawing a full lesson in the next post.
By relying on an existing institutional infrastructure, the Nepalese SSA payment system currently in use benefits from longstanding and trusted relationships between government officials and local communities. Trust is a precious resource which lubricates the pipeline through which social protection payments are funnelled to the beneficiaries. However, how previously argued, this pipeline is worn out, leaking cash along the way because of duplicate and ghost beneficiaries. This makes the system likelier to buckle under piling inefficiencies, thus driving up costs and draining resources – human and financial – that could be better spent on strategic sectors such as public health and education. In the long run, these dysfunctions could erode the trust on which the delivery mechanisms of SSA, and the channels of communication between the state and the citizens, relie.
Against this background stands the initiative of Nepal Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MoFALD) through its Department of Civil Registration (DOCR), and supported by the UNCDF and the World Bank, to digitise the delivery of SSA to Nepalese citizens and reconcile efficiency and thoroughness. The challenge is ambitious, as the project aims at allowing greater control over state resources and thus improving governance. But the digital switch is not an overnight change: it requires fresh arrangements, both technical and organisational, and, therefore, new public-private partnerships in which responsibilities are redistributed among old and new stakeholders. While DOCR strengthened its safety net systems through the establishment of a Management Information System (MIS), essentially a digital Registration, Entitlement and Payment (REAP) platform, for capturing information relating to beneficiaries, the World Bank was instrumental in laying the ground for the digitization of all payments in three Nepalese districts, Baglung, Banke and Surkhet, and UNCDF supported an education grant program managed by a local bank in two different districts, Kanchanpur and Daldhuera. But let’s focus on the digitization project. Its premise was to shift the complete responsibility of payment from the village development committees (VDC) to a commercial bank acting as a Payment Service Provider (PSP) and managing a network of agents.
The procedure is as follows:
VDC officers are in charge of enrolment by collecting the application forms as in the traditional method; the data are submitted to DDC officials who enter the details of each beneficiary on to the MoFALD database and submit a report to MoFALD. On the basis of this report, MoFALD provides a list of the beneficiaries to the PSP Bank, which manages the process of account opening by instructing the branch managers in the areas where the benificiaries reside. Bank agents collect all the necessary information, including scanned copies of the documents to meet KYC requirements and pictures of the beneficiaries. The data are uploaded in the database of the bank, which deals with the issuing and distribution of the smartcards to the beneficiaries. Three times per year, the SSA funds are transferred by the MoFAD to the PSP, which sends the list with the amount to be disbursed to the respective bank branch managers. The branch manager then credits the individual beneficiaries’ accounts with the benefit amount they are entitled to receive. The branchless bank agents are provided with a list of the beneficiaries (in hard and soft copy) and are credited with the amount for their area of coverage. The agent communicates the date in which he will visit a specific village to local authorities, who alert the beneficiaries. Upon verifying the identity of the beneficiary and disboursing the amount, a receipt is issued in two copies, one for the recipient, the other for the agent, which subsequently hand all the records of the payments to the PSP branch for reconciliation. The agent would also resort to the PSP branch to replenish cash float.
The figure below highlights the process flow and the stakeholders involved in the integrated banking system for cash transfers.
The infographic shows that district development committees (DDC) and village development committees (VDC) continue to be in charge of most activities at the identification and enrolment stage, although the extent and the scope of their involvement are reduced. The main differences with the traditional method of payment lie rather in the disbursement of cash to beneficiaries. In the pilot, this task was performed no longer by VDC but by bank agents, who also played an important role in helping a large number of beneficiaries with their queries, clarifications, documentation, and other tasks. By relieving village officials from the arrangement and the transport of cash, and the reporting and reconciliation of cash and accounts, the bank agents make possible a substantial saving of time and risk to VDC and DDC staff, who would, therefore, be able to focus on their core activities.
The preliminary results of the pilot seem thus to vindicate the initial expectations, also in terms of savings: the operational cost of delivering the social protection payments would decrease by more than 60%, if we consider that there is a time saving factor, given the time spent by state officials in managing the process of cash delivery and record keeping, and that would be freed up for other tasks, such as revenue collection and so on. Based on the time spent by state officials the cost of delivery comes to 1327.54 million (UD 12.44 million) and the maximum cost for delivering payments through PSP channel should not exceed 475.09 million (USD 4.46 million) benchmarked against best practices for delivering payments in context of Nepal, this resulting in substantial saving.
But the benefits can be far-reaching. Digitising the national SSA payment systems can not only smooth the process but, more broadly, contribute to strengthening the trust in the institutions and in their capacity to meet their responsibilities. Indeed, this alternate system would allow greater control on the leakages through data digitisation and de-duplication checks; simplify the report generation process through a digital management information systems (MIS), and secure authentication mechanism for beneficiaries through either biometric, where available, or card and PIN readers.
There are, however, some major challenges that test the public-private partnership on which this method is based. The next post will clarify the strategy to scale up the pilot and ask which lesson can be drawn from this experience.
At the Joe Bar Market, market women like yellow
In the Joe Bar Market on the Old Road, the stalls follow one another neatly, displaying local delicacies like colorful embroidery on rotting-wood-plank canvas.
If you have been there this year and you had to think of a color associated to this place, your mind would probably respond yellow without hesitation. Yellow has become the dominant color in the market since market women started accepting mobile money.
This is the outcome the “MoMo Angel Campaign” pilot launched by Lonestar Cell MTN to recruit and train women as agents and merchants in the marketplace.
The campaign was inspired by the #DFS4Women event organized by The UN Capital Development Fund’ s programme MM4P last October 2016, which saw in the Lonestar Mobile Money Senior Manager Massa Dennis an active participant.
During the conference, concrete examples fueled the discussion around the barriers that prevent women from accessing mobile money at the same rates as men, and why women agents are crucial to reach women customers. The challenges that women agents face were also addressed, with testimony of how other countries were working to remove them. At the end of the event, participants were asked to come up with solutions themselves, through an ad hoc ideation session. That is when Massa Dennis started drafting her first ideas for a new agent strategy in Liberia.
In December 2016, she shared Lonestar’s intentions with the UNCDF MM4P local Digital Finance Expert Ali Akram: “UNCDF has provided tremendous support to the growth and expansion of mobile money in Liberia. Through the technical assistance of MM4P, we have been able to sign on some major bulk payments deals, most notably, the Civil servants payments with five key ministries set to kick off in Q1 2017. We will be launching the “MoMo Market Women” Initiative in January 2017 which was an outcome of the Digital Finance for Women Conference I attended in October organized by UNCDF”.
MoMo Angel is now reality and hit the news.
Heavily branded, the campaign is built around three value-proposition pillars:
- When a market woman performs a minimum of 20 transactions monthly valued LD$1,500 (US$16), she qualifies for an educational assistance of LD$2,000 (US$21) against the receipt of a previous educational payment for one of her dependents, preferably a girl;
- A market woman agent gets LD$ 470 (USD$5) for every other market woman she is able to recruit;
- A market woman aspiring to be an agent is asked for a minimum start-up capital of LD$5,000 (US$53) instead of the legally required LD$20,000 (US$ 213).
With this initiative, Lonestar is clearly setting a trend in the wider marketplace of financial service providers. “Our market women initiative is geared towards empowering, giving them the means to save their money conveniently to realize their daily income without difficulties. […] We registered them for mobile money, where they can easily pay for the market through the same mobile money, in order for them to know this, we provided one-month extensive training for these women to be able to use mobile money, and its benefits. […] We have 10 agents at this Old Road market where these women can have access to mobile money services, we have also set up a platform where an agent can bring her friend”, explained Massa Dennis to the media at the launch event.
This initiative comes in the back drop of a country that is just emerging from devastations of the Ebola virus disease that plunged Liberia into economic crisis, and subsequent contraction of the banking sector. Only an estimated 30 percent of the country’s adult population own a bank account with a formal financial institution and limited access to financial services constrains recovery of the economy.
Women play a critical role in the country’s economy, constituting 47 percent of Liberia’s labor force and undertaking key roles in the agricultural and informal sector, either as producers or running small-scale business. As digital financial services gain traction in Liberia, it can be a potent tool in expanding and enhancing women’s economic roles in the country’s fragile economy by providing them a means to access savings, loans and insurance products.
On International Women’s day, MM4P commits to continue supporting initiatives towards women economic empowerment and gender equality, not just in Liberia but across the nine countries the programme currently covers.
From Skeptic to a Believer: HCD & Silicon Valley Tools to Improve DFS
This blog post is the first of a series dedicated to the lessons UNCDF MM4P learned in applying HCD methods introduced by Tillman Bruett in this previous post.
I came to MM4P as a skeptic of human centered design (HCD) – this buzzword/acronym was all the rage as I left Washington DC from my former job. When I went to the workshops describing HCD work in financial inclusion, I came away feeling like the work done didn’t really amount to much, and didn’t really have a lasting impact on the people that we want to be more financially included.
Enter 17 Triggers to the stage – UNCDF-MM4P searched around the world for the best HCD firms they could find, and best-in-class they are. Working with them completely changed my mind about using Silicon Valley, iterative testing models. They changed my mind because of two things.
First, their very tactile, very visual methodology of “Vision of Perfect Workshops”, combined with UNCDF’s local market knowledge, forced all the major stakeholders from the top to the operational to sit together and a) discuss the assumptions behind the project and the state of the market; and b) together, decide and agree on what the end goals are for the project and c) how we would measure success. This sounds so simple—don’t all projects do this? No, they don’t. We assume everyone has read the reams of documentation that is produced before we begin implementation – they either never read it, read an old version, or they have forgotten.
Second, is their commitment to living and working in the field while researching a customer or agent’s experience, iteratively testing either product design or marketing design of products. At times, they almost served as a booster team to the service provider – quickly iterating on training, on communication to agents, on channeling concerns of service provider stakeholders – and problem solving. Based on their iterative testing-driven insights, we created on-demand incredibly useful tools that solved the small problems of poor communication with stakeholders (like sub-agents/tellers) that are often ignored in digital financial services implementation by providers.
The buy-in and insights that come from both of these pieces of human centered design methodology had immediate impact on the two providers we have worked with. With every report we gave – whether it was on successes/challenges on product design, system problems, or training missteps, the providers met the feedback head on and immediately re-aligned resources to address problems. And that’s when you know you’ve made impact – when a service provider makes lasting changes within their organization that tailors what they’ve learned to accelerate what they want to achieve.
Together, we are supporting our Zambian digital finance providers on how to test, launch and scale products – using a Silicon Valley approach. We are not only opening minds about what truly a customer or agent faces in their journey to be a “power user” or “power agent”, we are also testing liquidity models never tested before. Our goal is to create a massive change in the Zambian market, resulting in every financial service provider believing that taking this approach is the “new normal”.
What we learned on our journey to customer centricity
There has been a lot of “buzz” in the past five years around how human-centered design (HCD) and customer centricity can make digital finance more inclusive. The entrance of large mobile network operators and technology savvy funders into financial inclusion brought with it new specialized consulting firms with deep expertise in product design, data analytics and marketing. At UNCDF we have been watching and learning from these efforts as well as looking at a variety of successful campaigns in developing countries focused on influencing behavior. We tend to be a bit cautious about “the next big thing.” Our preferred method is to watch and learn first, with hope and skepticism and then focus on a different type of innovation—how this “next big thing” can work in our markets.
Two years ago we brought over 120 partners and colleagues from countries around the world to Uganda, rented a small fleet of buses, and took them to rural Uganda. With a half day of training, they were instructed how to conduct interviews with customers and agents, create “personas” and map their experiences in digital finance. It was a logistical nightmare, ended at midnight for some, involved a lot of terribly drawn stick figures (mine in particular), and turned out to be the highlight of the event. I remember happily listening to a young Laotian banker share her notes with a Liberian mobile money manager somewhere on the outskirts of Jinja and thinking that this was our first lesson learned. The power of HCD was getting the partner to directly engage with customer—and be able to talk about it with someone who cared.
In the past few years we’ve focused on how to use some of these tools with our partners drawing on a range of firms including 17 Triggers, In8motion, MicroSave, PHB Development and IDEO to name a few. An advantage we have is that our team sits in country and can be not only part of the engagement with these firms, but also be with our partners before, during and after the field work.
In a series of blogs from UNCDF in field, we wanted to share some of experiences so far using different methods, partners and projects from Samoa to Senegal. The series will look at applying human centered design approaches to problems around products, agents and digitizing payments streams. We’ll compare different methods from more “traditional” customer research to “alternative” approaches and in each we’ll highlight at least one of our lessons learned. We humbly hope that you find something of value for your own work.
Digitizing social security allowances in Nepal
This post is the first of three looking at the digitization of social security benefit grants in Nepal. It provides the background of the country’s social security allowance (SSA) programme and describes how the current method of payment works.
Geography may not be destiny, as the saying goes, but when it comes to financial inclusion, it is definitely a key determinant. Nepal, with its rugged landscape and poor infrastructure, is a case in point. As discussed in a previous post, the lack of brick-and-mortar banks and other financial institutions in rural areas is a major obstacle to achieving universal financial access. Today, 61 percent of the population is formally financially included, but this South Asian country presents infrastructural challenges that compound the socioeconomic marginalization of large swathes of the population. While the State relies heavily on foreign aid, private households find a vital lifeline in the flow of international remittances, which account for 32 percent of GDP. As 25 percent of the population lives on US$1.25 per day, the national social protection programme plays a critical role in sustaining livelihoods and smoothing consumption among the poorest.
In December 1994, the Government of Nepal began making SSA payments to senior citizens, those above the age of 75. Over time, the pool of beneficiaries has been gradually expanded to include other categories of beneficiaries, namely single women, children, widows, disabled persons and Janajatis (members of endangered ethnic groups). The total SSA budget currently amounts to Nr17 billion (~$156 million) per year, and it is expected to be doubled soon. Payments range between Nr200 and Nr1000 (~$2 and $9), delivered three times per year to 2.36 million beneficiaries, distributed across the country’s mountain, hill and terai (plain) regions (see table).
Snapshot of social security allowance transfer
a Individuals may not receive more than one transfer and are ineligible if they already receive a salary or pension from the Government.
b Although the benefit amounts are described in monthly terms, the money is aggregated and delivered three times per year by VDCs and municipalities.
c As explained on the Dalit Welfare Organization website, ‘Dalit are defined as “those communities who, by virtue of atrocities of caste-based discrimination and untouchability, are most backward in social, economic, educational, political and religious fields, and are deprived of human dignity and social justice."’
d The Supreme Court of Nepal recently ruled that all widows, regardless of age, should be eligible for this allowance. To date, this ruling has not yet been implemented.
e MoFALD allocates quotas by district for partial disability beneficiaries. Decisions are made by the Social Security District Coordination Committee in cases where the number of applicants for the partial disability grant exceeds the district quota.
f There are 59 officially recognized Janajati (indigenous) groups in Nepal. Out of these, 10 have been identified as endangered and are eligible for the grant.
Social security benefit grants are currently delivered manually to beneficiaries in cash through a complex institutional framework. The process begins with the 3,276 Village Development Committees (VDCs) and 191 municipalities in 75 District Development Committees (DDCs). VDCs are in charge of enrolling beneficiaries, or renewing the applications of beneficiaries, and submitting them to DDCs, which in turn forward summary reports to the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MoFALD). On the basis of the budget prepared by MoFALD, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) allocates the funds and reconciles the reports.
The process is divided into six steps: communication with existing/prospective beneficiaries to renew/enrol; application process; deregistration of the deceased and others; issuance of beneficiary passbook/identity card; fund disbursement; and reporting and reconciliation (see figure).
Process flow for social security allowance payments
This manual process to deliver SSA payments, which comes at an annual cost of Nr1.327 billion (~$12 million), presents both advantages and disadvantages.
The two major benefits of manual disbursement of SSA payments derive from the familiarity of beneficiaries with VDC and DDC officials, who are primarily responsible for disbursing the payments and carrying out development work in the areas under their jurisdiction. First, since VDCs and DDCs can rely on the administrative infrastructure already in place, there is no need to set up a separate chain of operations. Second, VDC officials can use the pre-existing channels of communication not only to reach out to beneficiaries but also to receive feedback and complaints to be forwarded to the upper echelons. The personal relationship built over time between officials and beneficiaries is particularly relevant for specific segments, such as senior citizens. Indeed, not only do VDC officials verify the age of applicants, which is the determining factor for eligibility, from the citizenship card, but they also assist eligible beneficiaries in completing the application form.
On the other hand, the manual payment system presents many challenges. To begin with, a manual process for data collection, data entry, record keeping, report preparation and benefit disbursement is cumbersome and prone to errors. It creates a heavy workload for VDC and DDC officials, who are therefore diverted from other tasks, and increases the risk that resources might ‘slip through the cracks’ because of the lack of proper control mechanisms. It also exposes the system’s vulnerability to inefficiencies and fund misuse, by hindering the identification of ghost beneficiaries and leakages. On top of that, because of the remoteness of the areas in which most beneficiaries reside, cash distribution to VDCs and fund disbursement can be delayed, sowing discontent among beneficiaries. As a result, in the medium/long-term, trust in the system can erode, thus undercutting the legitimacy of the institutional actors involved.
A question then arises: how can the efficiency of the system be improved while costs are contained?
The next blog post will describe how MoFALD, supported by the World Bank and United Nations Capital Development Fund and in partnership with local banks, are addressing this issue.
March 2017. Copyright © UN Capital Development Fund. All rights reserved.
The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of UNCDF, the United Nations or any of its affiliated organizations or its Member States.
M-Dorado : réalité ou mythe ?
Avez-vous déjà entendu parler de M-dorado? Le paradis du tout-numérique, ou les services financiers digitaux transforment – améliorent – le quotidien des populations, permettent de faire des affaires plus facilement et à moindre coût, imposent la transparence au grand dam de la corruption et de la mauvaise gouvernance. Sans aller vite en besogne, on peut dire que l’Afrique est en -bon- chemin pour M-dorado. Prenez le Kenya : en 2015, plus de 15 millions de compte de monnaie électronique M-Pesa actifs, plus de 58% de la population adulte a un portemonnaie électronique. D’aucuns citeraient même que plus de 43% du Produit Intérieur Brut (PIB) du Kenya transite à travers le système de paiement M-Pesa, le portemonnaie électronique offert par l’opérateur téléphonique Safaricom. Aujourd’hui, on peut faire tant avec M-Pesa au Kenya : acheter des unités pour son téléphones, envoyer de l’argent, payer la plupart de ses factures, faire des achats, emprunter de l’argent ou en retirer pour faire des dépenses en espèce.
Le Bénin, comme la majorité des pays africains, n’est pas le Kenya. Mais, la révolution numérique est bel et bien en marche! Tenez, le 19 Janvier dernier, Cotonou a accueilli la première rencontre de l’année du groupe de travail sur la finance digitale. Ce forum de discussion et de partage d’expérience sur les services financiers digitaux a été mis en place par le programme UNCDF-MM4P sous la présidence du Ministère de l’économie et des finances et la coprésidence de la BCEAO Nationale. En matière de finance digitale, le Benin est en train d’amorcer une phase d’expansion des services. En 2015, plus d’un million de compte de monnaie électronique étaient enregistrés sur le marché avec un taux d’utilisation actif de plus 30%.
Ce forum du groupe de travail a accueilli la crème de l’industrie: régulateurs des services financiers et des télécommunications, opérateurs mobiles, institutions de microfinance, banques, etc… ; signe que l’intérêt porté à la question de la finance digitale n’est plus à démontrer. Autre signe rarement trompeur : l’intensité et la richesse des échanges. La rencontre a débuté par une session sur les fondamentaux de la finance digitale pour s’accorder sur ce que les expressions et anglicismes signifient. Une mise au point sur les définitions qui a été suivi d’une séance sur le cadre réglementaire. Les participants se sont penchés sur ce que la loi au sein de l’UEMOA permet en matière de paiements digitaux et sur les conditions et modalités d'exercice de l'activité des émetteurs de monnaie électronique en passant par la réglementation bancaire au Bénin et la réglementation des SFD au Bénin pour finir par la lutte contre le financement du terrorisme en République du Bénin et la lutte contre le blanchiment des capitaux.
Enfin, il y a eu une discussion extrêmement riche sur le potentiel des services financiers digitaux comme levier d’inclusion financière ; comment accélérer l’émergence de nouveaux modèles de partenariat et de produits pour mieux servir les besoins des clients et faciliter l’adoption des service financiers digitaux par les couches vulnérables de la population ?
Les échanges ont aussi abordé les freins à l’adoptions des services financiers digitaux pour focaliser notamment sur la peur des utilisateurs en cas d’erreur (comment récupérer son argent si on l’envoie par erreur à un mauvais numéro ?), ou encore la protection contre les cybers criminels. On a entendu beaucoup de propositions : mesures d’accompagnement pour la gestion des réclamations, amélioration des menus et fonctionnalités gérant les transferts d’un téléphone mobile à l’autre, partenariat avec les services de police en charge de la cybercriminalité, ou encore campagnes de sensibilisation.
Fait très appréciable: les discussions ont débouché sur la proposition de créer des sous-commissions pour aller jusqu’au bout de ces réflexions et, lors de la prochaine rencontre du groupe de travail sur la finance digitale, de présenter des recommandations et plan d’actions concrets pour démystifier l’utilisation de la monnaie électronique, doper son adoption et garantir la sécurité des usagers.
En avant pour M-dorado!!!