Most African countries operate a cash-based society where the general populace is more comfortable trading and exchanging value with cash over digital currencies and e-payment options. The average Nigerian working at Nairobi will rather expect payments in cash over available digital options. Generally, Africans will doubt the essentiality and durability of a digital currency over the regular paper currency they are used to.
This utter preference for cash over digitals is largely due to personal sentiments and societal insecurities driven into them via years and experiences of notorious money laundering and internet scamming schemes demonizing large economies of the continent over the past few years. However, They may be able to use digital services to meet some of their needs, such as sending money to a family member or getting a small loan, but not others, such as buying food products at the local market. These users require a cheap and easy way to switch between the worlds of cash and digital currency.
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Some local store owners doubling as mobile money agents are typically bridging this divide to their advantage. The services they offer play an essential role in building digital financial services at scale. Yet many digital financial services providers have struggled to establish viable mobile money agent networks in rural areas, where sparse populations lead to low transaction volumes and weak incentives for entrepreneurs to serve as agents. This makes it difficult to advance financial inclusion at the last mile.
Recent reports suggest that a variety of agency banking firms have improved agent viability in rural areas. This also shows that some of these new models diversify the range, services, and pricing of customer transactions that agents can facilitate, which provides them with extra sources of income.
Cellulant’s Tingg is leading the charge in this regard, building agent networks in rural areas thereby creating numerous employment opportunities, reaching as much as far into Northern Nigeria and the Niger Delta regions (both of which house the highest unemployment rates in the country) where digital financial inclusion and adoption is at the lowest.
So far, hundreds of youths have been afforded job opportunities in these selected regions. Enabling financial inclusion amongst many and providing an avenue to earn even more money. Tingg impact has been felt not just as a mobile money venture provider but also as an enabler for other businesses helping merchants and people pay and be paid for goods bought and services rendered.
There has been a steady increase in the adoption and use of digital financial services as provided by Tingg aiding the Central Bank of Nigeria’s plan to create 500,000 agency banking networks nationwide, and to bring in 40 million Nigerians into the formal financial service is looking quite feasible as it continues to gain more momentum.