Communiqué of The Brand Journalists’ Association of Nigeria (BJAN) At 4th Annual Brands & Marketing Conference


The 2016 Annual Brands & Marketing Conference of Brand Journalists’ Association of Nigeria (BJAN) took place at the Ijewere Hall, of Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) House, Adeola Hopewell Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, on Friday, 4th November, 2016. The theme of the conference was ‘Mobile Money in Nigeria - Challenges, Opportunities, Threats.’


The objectives of the Conference were to bring together analysts, experts, government representatives and regulators to crack some puzzles facing Mobile Money operations in Nigeria. Analyse and aggregate all shades of ideas and suggestions that can enhance Mobile Money business in Nigeria. Stimulate interest of brand writers and other attendees in an area that is of great strategic national interest, and equip them with current and salient facts that will ensure adequate dissemination of accurate information to the public and build capacity amongst journalists, brand analysts and other stakeholders in the marketing industry and develop new strategies they can leverage on to grow the mobile money market of Nigeria’s financial sector.

The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Lagos State, Mr Steve Ayorinde was the Special Guest of Honour. He also delivered the keynote address at the conference Notable financial practitioners, regulators, brand builders, industry players and experts presented papers at the conference or served as panel discussants at the conference.

The four incisive presentations at the conference include, “Moblie Money: Can Telcos be alternatives to banks” by Prof Umar Garba Dambatta, Executive Vice-Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission; “Mobile Money: Nexus Between technology & Financial Institutions”; by Francis Nwoboshi: Head, Mobile & Acquiring Channels, Stanbic IBTC; and “Evolving a Sustainable Legal Framework for Mobile Money in Nigeria” by Jimoh Itopa, Deputy- Director, Banking & Payment System Dept., CBN. There was also a case-study presentation, “WHO’s Quest For a User-friendly Mobile Money Platform” by Ibrahim Abdulahi, Finance Officer, World Health Organisation (WHO), Nigeria Country Office, Abuja.

OBSERVATIONS
Stakeholders commended BJAN for organizing the forum which is coming at a time mobile money is under discussions at various levels.  They also encouraged the association to continue her drive for better financial education and improved financial inclusion which is the objective of mobile money.

Following careful deliberations and discussions at the conference, participants observed that:
Public awareness in Nigeria about the operations of mobile money is still very low. The conference frowned that Mobile money penetration in Nigeria is just one percent even with huge phone penetration, while Kenya is well over 17 percent The conference also noted the constant mix-up in awareness between Mobile money and Mobile banking. While Mobile banking needs the operator to own a bank account, Mobile Money allows any user to do financial transactions basically with a mobile phone.

Identification of beneficiaries has also remained a major challenge. Whereas in countries where successes have been recorded with Mobile Money, wallets were tied to a National ID card database, Nigeria does not have a fool-proof validation platform of who actually owns a mobile number. Mobile Money require trust to succeed, unfortunately, these challenges make it open to fraud. A major source of discouragement to prospective mobile money users.
The cost of transaction has been a major source of concern for those bold enough to use Mobile Money as it ranges from N150-N300 to transfer an amount like N5,000 and below.

We have Limited Agency Distribution Outlets across the nation. Lack of finance among most operators and underestimation of the amount of resources required to effectively build and grow Mobile Money business e.g. the agent network, technology and marketing has affected massive roll-out of Mobile Money in Nigeria.
Lack of adequate collaboration between Government, Telcos and Banks to effectively grow the system. This had emanated from Resource contention and clamour for “full” participation in the value chain by the Telecommunication companies in order to gain absolute brand visibility and partake in increased profit sharing.

Lack of inter-operability among competing technologies and payment systems as well as Limited access of most end users to ICT infrastructure.
Security is still a major challenge with repeated cases of armed robbery attack and attendant impact on agent liquidity. Some of the agents have been forced to reduce their cash exposure.

Virtually all attendees agreed that Mobile money transactions across the globe, including Nigeria will transform financial transactions and the world of mobile. It was unanimously agreed that effective deployment of Mobile money will change human’s lives, increased convenience, and enhance the standard of living for the unbanked population and stimulate economic development.

RECOMMENDATIONS
After extensive discussions, the followings recommendations were made:
On information dissemination and communication, the forum stressed the need for adequate consumer education activities to ensure that consumers are properly sensitized on the services around mobile money. All stakeholders especially banks and The CBN were advised on the need to Mount Massive campaigns to make ordinary Nigerians understand and appreciate mobile money.

The forum also advised all stakeholders to organize constant training for the media; especially those at the grassroots to enhance massive awareness and usage of Mobile money.
On the issue of adequate identification of funds recipients, integration of data (BVN, Biometrics, Phone numbers, voters’ card etc) was advised to boost security and trust in mobile money. As a prelude, stakeholders advised NCC and CBN to synergize their data as this will further enhance KYC (Know Your Customer) quality in the least KYC band and allow for more innovative products like micro loans.

Players in the Mobile Money Ecosystem must constantly improve security, expanding their mobile offerings; ensure affordability, quality and availability of key infrastructure such as USSD, Data etc and building commerce capabilities that will give consumers a more compelling reason to make purchases using digital devices.

The forum also called for the provision of enabling policies and regulatory framework to attract the willingness of potential customers to subscribe to the service.
Providing a balancing synergy amongst relevant players in the Mobile Money Ecosystem, especially on the debate whether Mobile money should be bank-led or telco-led was strongly advised. Participants called on all regulatory bodies involved to collaborate and resolve all bottlenecks and enforce full compliance/ implementation of any decision that is in the best interest of the country.

The forum also called on government at all levels to promote the use of mobile money by using the platform to make payment of Bursaries, allowances, Social disbursement benefits and other items that effectively be handled by the platform. Tax Exemptions/Rebates were also recommended as Incentives for corporates, NGOs etc who either pay through or receive mobile money payments in their financial transactions. 

The forum noted the need for collaboration between NCC, telcos, banks and CBN for the growth of mobile money in the creation of more agency outlets which are presently limited.

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