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Mobile financial services on the rise

Mobile financial services on the rise

Exploring the consumer perspective in Sub-Saharan Africa

This Consumer and Market Insight report analyses how and why mobile money has increased in popularity across Sub-Saharan Africa and presents aspects that could contribute to future successes with mobile money services.

The evolution of mobile money in Sub-Saharan Africa

Get the highlights from the report in this on-demand broadcast with Peter Rinderud, Senior Researcher Statistics at Ericsson, and Nora Wahby, Head of Customer Unit West Africa & Morocco at Ericsson.

Key findings

1. Mobile Money on the rise

Consumers are recognizing the value of mobile money. The number of users has tripled in Ghana, quadrupled in Angola and increased tenfold in Nigeria since 2015. Around half of consumers across the surveyed countries now use their phones for this purpose.

2. COVID-19 has accelerated mobile money usage

Due to the new norms imposed by the pandemic, 54% of consumers state that they use mobile money more now. Furthermore, around 70% are now more positive towards mobile money as a preferred contactless alternate to cash.

3. Communication Service Providers still lead the way

CSPs are the most popular mobile money supplier, with up to 90% of mobile money users now using the technology through them. Meanwhile, providers like banks, remittances, financial payment companies and social media companies reach around 30% of mobile money users in the region.

4. Communication Service Providers are most trusted

9 in 10 consumers in the region express some level of trust in CSPs to provide services. CSPs are also more associated with trust than other types of mobile money providers, with trust also being the greatest driver of overall customer satisfaction among their mobile money customers. 

5. Time is money

Half of mobile money users see time saving as one of the biggest benefits of mobile money and digital money transactions. Faster transactions is also the factor that would encourage the most current users to increase their usage of mobile money services in the near future, through using more digital transactions and/or more simplified cash in and out visits to agents.

6. A better society with mobile money

Mobile money is perceived as being beneficial to society as a whole. For example, about three-quarters agree that mobile money will reduce vulnerabilities for low-income people during economic, social and environmental shocks as well as disasters by helping the affected with money transactions 

Essential aspects for future success

There are eight key improvement areas identified that should be in place in order to ensure future success with mobile money services and their greater utilization by consumers. These aspects can be illustrated as points in a wheel, in no particular order of importance.

There are eight key improvement areas

Higher trust

It is crucial to both maintain and strengthen trust when handling consumers’ money. It is also currently the main driver of customer satisfaction with the mobile money offerings by the CSPs.

Higher security

High security is one of the main reasons for choosing a mobile money supplier. Similarly, non-users value secure transactions the most when they consider any future uptake of a mobile money service provided by a CSP.

Secure personal data handling

Two-thirds of consumers in the region feel secure with how their personal data is handled when using mobile money. However, this still means that a third are not comfortable enough at this point.

Shortening time

70% say faster transactions would encourage them to use mobile money more. Mobile money suppliers must consider new solutions to speed up the process of cash transfers.

Improve and communicate safety aspects

After time, safety is the second-highest concern when it comes to sending and receiving cash. Therefore, highlighting safety aspects in communications with consumers is key.

Strengthening the ecosystem

A stronger mobile money ecosystem is desirable. It’s also desirable that institutions and companies, including small businesses in marketplaces, offer the possibility to make payments via mobile money.

Easy to use for all

Mobile money services should be made available for anyone to take advantage of, irrespective of technology proficiency levels. Additionally, ease of access should take into account the pricing for new users.

More reliable networks

50% of consumers would use mobile money more if networks were more reliable. Non-users see network reliability as their fourth most important driver to adoption.


01. Mobile Money on the rise

Mobile Money on the rise

About half of consumers in Sub-Saharan Africa use mobile money, based on the countries surveyed. When comparing 2015 and 2021’s data, mobile money usage has tripled in Ghana, quadrupled in Angola and increased tenfold (from low levels) in Nigeria. Today, this survey shows that consumers in Ghana have the highest usage levels, at 90%. Meanwhile, this is about 80% for Ivory Coast and Senegal, while Nigeria and Ethiopia are still in the early stages of establishing mobile money use. Furthermore, most non-users are now at least aware of mobile money, which was not the case in 2015.


02. COVID-19 has accelerated mobile money usage

COVID-19 has accelerated mobile money usage

This study shows how consumers have turned to mobile money for financial matters since COVID-19 restrictions came into place. Half say they have started using, or increased their usage of, mobile money due to the pandemic, while also noticing friends using it more now than before the pandemic. As a result, as many as 7 in 10 say they are now more positive towards mobile money and, more importantly, are willing to learn more about it. Using mobile money simply means a better chance of avoiding infection, keeping distance from both cash and mobile money agents.


03. Communication Service Providers still lead the way

Communication Service Providers still lead the way

The trend of only using one type of mobile money supplier seems to be relatively strong. Over half of mobile money users say they only have one type of mobile money supplier. This is significant as only 17 percent have 2 types of provider, and 1 in 4 have more than 2 types. Single-supplier usage is particularly evident for the CSPs and their solutions, since they are by far the most used mobile money providers. Nine in 10 users chose a mobile money service provided by a CSP, and half use the service at least weekly. At the same time, only 3 in 10 use remittance agencies, internet banks, financial payment companies or social media for mobile money.


04. Communication Service Providers are most trusted

Communication Service Providers are most trusted

CSPs are perceived as a trustworthy mobile money supplier, according to 63% of their customers. Additionally, their customers associate them more often with factors such as ease of use, a good variety of offerings, great transaction security and affordability. Banks are second when it comes to trust, with 32% of their customers expressing trust in them. Interestingly, close to 50% of those using mobile money from social media companies have no associations at all with them, even though they claim to use their mobile money services.


05. Time is money

Time is money

Currently, users see several benefits to using mobile money. Across all surveyed countries, simplicity, speed and convenience are seen as the greatest benefits, at 67%, 56% and 55% respectively among users. This indicates that suppliers have created relatively easy, fast and convenient services that appeal to a broad spectrum of consumers beyond tech-savvy early adopters.

Still, 4 in 10 are asking for services which are easier to use due to the reasons outlined in the figure above. Consumers also express a perception of time saving when utilizing mobile money services for financial transactions. As the figure above shows, transaction speed is also the most important improvement area for mobile money users to use these services even more in the future.

Triggers for adoption

Word of mouth is the strongest trigger for adoption in the region, with 7 in 10 users claiming that their friends and/or family use or recommend mobile money. These recommendations mean that users of mobile money are relatively pleased with the services and offerings they receive. Only 10% automatically got mobile money with their mobile phone contract. In Angola, the situation is slightly different, as 43% automatically got the service through their mobile phone contract. This highlights the active role that CSPs are taking as a facilitator.


06. A better society with mobile money

A better society with mobile money

Mobile money is more than just better individual money transactions – it can positively impact many facets of society.

Supporting the vulnerable

As many as three-quarters of Sub-Saharan African consumers believe that mobile money can play a crucial role for supporting the most vulnerable.

A safety net for farmers

Four-fifths of consumers are convinced that mobile money, with a type of weather-indexed mobile insurance service, can provide a safety net for farmers in case of environment-related disasters.

Gender equality and educational access

Almost 80% across the region believe that mobile money can improve conditions for women by providing them with safe and secure access to financial services. Eight in 10 believe that mobile money can make it easier for parents to pay school-related fees.

Supporting a healthy population

Over 80% of consumers believe that mobile money can improve access to utilities, such as electricity, water and sanitation services, through affordable and convenient payment methods via mobile money.

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