Ivorians’ dump traditional banks, for mobile banking

Far back in 2014, the government of Ivory Coast made is possible for high school students to pay their tuition using e-payment services. Today, the ministry of education claims about 94% of the territory’s 1.5 million high school students remit their tuition using mobile money.

The main of the move at first was to curb corruption, but it has spurred accelerated growth for mobile money services – an impressive 83% of the country’s population now uses them. Firms such as Orange, MTN and Moov get huge profits from mobile money charges – 40.1%, 34.9% and 25% respectively.

Conventional banks are becoming irrelevant in the face of the staunch competition posed by these simpler and more accessible remmitance solutions. Moves by the government to promote financial inclusion the conventional way has failed. While banks continue to grapple to retain and increase their customer base, figures show that only 19% of the country’s 25 million people own a bank account, most of whom are civil servants.

Financial expert and educator Serge Dan Kouadio argues that conventional lenders have failed to build a system that serves the everyday member of society. He blames them for alienating the people mobile money services have now endeared themselves to.

“Banks have built their style of services around corporate citizens. Their branches are few, their ATMs are not accessible to many users, and their working hours are limited,” Kouadio says. “Many people, mostly the ordinary clients, are cut off from their services, and that is the gap mobile money is bridging.”

Lenders are putting up a fight by incorporating mobile money services into, including cross-border remittance into their platforms. Yet the road to recovery is long, as experts doubt that they will ever catch up with mobile money services. With kiosks and shops all over local vicinities, it is safe to say mobile money agents have brought banking to the average man’s doorstep and it will take time and effort to beat that.

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