MTN’s head of mobile financial services at the GSMA MOBILE 360 SERIES – AFRICA, in Kigali, Rwanda outlined the company’s plans to evolve its financial services proposition from mobile money to become a platform player across its African markets.
Serigne Dioum said the operator is working to transition “from mobile money as a service” to becoming “an enabler where we link businesses to our customers, and we also link businesses together.”
The executive referenced MTN’s assets when questioned about growing competition – and investment – in Africa’s fintech scene.
“We are preparing ourselves to welcome those people and to use our platform as an enabler for them first of all to reach our customers, because we have KYC [know your customer] for all those customers, and we have a good distribution network for all those customers, and we have so many assets we have built,” Dioum said.
“I only see potential for us. We have assets that we have been building for years: yesterday we celebrated our 20 years presence in Rwanda. We built a very strong distribution network, and what is more important is the trust of our customers we have been building. They know that if they have airtime in their wallet, it will not disappear. It’s the same with mobile money – the trust component is very important,” he noted.
Taxation of mobile money services was also touched upon, with the need for governments to raise revenue for development in balance with the need to drive financial inclusion.
“The core telco business is stable or declining, and mobile money is one of the sources of growth that telcos see today. Governments as well are looking for new sources of revenue to finance the development of countries,” he said.
Dioum was clear there are limits to how far its aspirations reach: “In terms of regulatory frameworks, we are operating in different jurisdictions, we are operating under different regulatory frameworks, and in none of those have we applied for a bank licence,” he said.