Synthesis Documents

Mobile Money for Business Development in the East African Community: A Comparative Study of Existing Platforms and Regulations, UNCTAD, 2012

    This report is a survey of mobile money services across the East African Community (EAC), providing an analysis and comparison between the different platforms currently on offer. The report presents the environment in which mobile money is operating and how it has shaped the emerging models and services. Attention is given to the different regulatory environments in which the respective systems operate. Based on this review, the report draws lessons and makes recommendations in terms of policy and regulation geared towards the increasing adoption and use of mobile money, notably amongst small businesses.

    Ordinarily, regulators and Governments in EAC tend to look towards the developed world for prior art. But in the case of mobile money, the situation is the reverse. EAC region is at the forefront of the mobile money revolution with a number of implementations amongst the few that are gaining traction globally and, as a result, has few examples to draw from elsewhere. In-stead, countries in this region—four of which are least developed countries—can provide leadership and example through experimenting with new models and ways of doing things such that they do not erode past achievements but instead create more development opportunities.

    The first section provides a background to mobile money across EAC. The second section then examines the different mobile money service offerings along with their associated fees. The third section looks at some salient features of the services currently on offer across EAC and identifies some usability issues such as access channels, security, registration and transaction limits, agent networks and consumer awareness and support. The fourth section provides an analysis of regulatory issues structured around the different functions embedded in a mobile money service. The final section draws on lessons across EAC to make policy recommendations to help direct the development of mobile money in a way that is inclusive and that also favours mobile money use amongst small businesses. Full country profiles in the Annex provide in-depth detail and comparison across mobile money platforms within each country in EAC.