Research for Global Development

Mobile Money is on an Upward Trajectory in Tanzania


A year-long study by InterMedia into the uptake and use of mobile money in Tanzania reveals mobile money use is on the rise. Forty-five percent of Tanzanian adults now use mobile money, up from 31 percent just three months earlier.  Just as noteworthy: The increase in mobile money use occurred across almost all demographic segments, including urban and rural residents, men and women, those above and below the poverty line, and all age groups.  Much of the growth may have been due to an aggressive marketing and promotional campaign by mobile money provider, Airtel, which included free mobile money transfers.

These findings are from the fourth, and latest wave, of the Tanzania Mobile Money Tracker study, published earlier this month.  With the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, InterMedia conducted the study to track trends in the awareness, uptake and use of mobile money in Tanzania and help identify the drivers and barriers to expanding use.

As of October 2012 when the wave four data was collected, awareness of mobile money had reached saturation in Tanzania, with 99 percent of the population able to name or recognize at least one mobile money brand. Airtel led the way in wave four with recognition rising from 74 percent to 92 percent of Tanzanians. Airtel also had the largest rise in mobile money use of any mobile money operator, jumping from 3 percent market share to 13 percent (although Vodacom’s M-PESA is still by far the market leader with 65 percent market share).

Mobile Money Use by Brand: Provider Used Most Frequently by Active Users

graphIf Airtel’s marketing campaign was the cause of much of the increased recognition and use of Airtel Money, it will be worth watching to see if use continues at the same rate once transfer fees return.

During the study, we gained valuable insight into the interactions between mobile money agents and their customers through mystery shopping exercises.  The exercises, in which researchers pose as potential customers, also allowed us to evaluate the level of agents’ customer service. In these exercises, researchers visited mobile money agents, tried to complete a transaction, and reported back on their experience.  The exercises showed that while most agents were “friendly,” most did not have the knowledge or information necessary to meet the customers’ needs. Most agents also failed to explain the services that are available through mobile money.  Additional findings on the customer-agent relationship can be found here.

In addition to shortcomings among agents, a lack of understanding among both nonusers and mobile money users emerged as a clear limitation on mobile money’s use.  Among nonusers, not knowing how to use mobile money is the second most common reason given for not using the services.  Users reported feeling they do not understand mobile money well enough to take full advantage of the services. More than a quarter of mobile money users reported “always” needing assistance with transactions in wave four, and another 12 percent said they “sometimes” need help.

While mobile money is growing rapidly in Tanzania, a lack of knowledge and assistance provided by agents, and a lack of understanding of the services among both users and nonusers appear to be limiting even faster or wider growth. Additional barriers, such as network problems, security concerns, and registration issues are discussed in more detail in the full report.  With nearly half the adults in Tanzania using mobile money, however, there is clearly demand for these services despite the barriers.

Additional resources on mobile money data and research are available through our Financial Inclusion Tracker Surveys project, and our mobile money data center.

InterMedia

Mobile Money is on an Upward Trajectory in Tanzania


A year-long study by InterMedia into the uptake and use of mobile money in Tanzania reveals mobile money use is on the rise. Forty-five percent of Tanzanian adults now use mobile money, up from 31 percent just three months earlier.  Just as noteworthy: The increase in mobile money use occurred across almost all demographic segments, including urban and rural residents, men and women, those above and below the poverty line, and all age groups.  Much of the growth may have been due to an aggressive marketing and promotional campaign by mobile money provider, Airtel, which included free mobile money transfers.

These findings are from the fourth, and latest wave, of the Tanzania Mobile Money Tracker study, published earlier this month.  With the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, InterMedia conducted the study to track trends in the awareness, uptake and use of mobile money in Tanzania and help identify the drivers and barriers to expanding use.

As of October 2012 when the wave four data was collected, awareness of mobile money had reached saturation in Tanzania, with 99 percent of the population able to name or recognize at least one mobile money brand. Airtel led the way in wave four with recognition rising from 74 percent to 92 percent of Tanzanians. Airtel also had the largest rise in mobile money use of any mobile money operator, jumping from 3 percent market share to 13 percent (although Vodacom’s M-PESA is still by far the market leader with 65 percent market share).

Mobile Money Use by Brand: Provider Used Most Frequently by Active Users

graphIf Airtel’s marketing campaign was the cause of much of the increased recognition and use of Airtel Money, it will be worth watching to see if use continues at the same rate once transfer fees return.

During the study, we gained valuable insight into the interactions between mobile money agents and their customers through mystery shopping exercises.  The exercises, in which researchers pose as potential customers, also allowed us to evaluate the level of agents’ customer service. In these exercises, researchers visited mobile money agents, tried to complete a transaction, and reported back on their experience.  The exercises showed that while most agents were “friendly,” most did not have the knowledge or information necessary to meet the customers’ needs. Most agents also failed to explain the services that are available through mobile money.  Additional findings on the customer-agent relationship can be found here.

In addition to shortcomings among agents, a lack of understanding among both nonusers and mobile money users emerged as a clear limitation on mobile money’s use.  Among nonusers, not knowing how to use mobile money is the second most common reason given for not using the services.  Users reported feeling they do not understand mobile money well enough to take full advantage of the services. More than a quarter of mobile money users reported “always” needing assistance with transactions in wave four, and another 12 percent said they “sometimes” need help.

While mobile money is growing rapidly in Tanzania, a lack of knowledge and assistance provided by agents, and a lack of understanding of the services among both users and nonusers appear to be limiting even faster or wider growth. Additional barriers, such as network problems, security concerns, and registration issues are discussed in more detail in the full report.  With nearly half the adults in Tanzania using mobile money, however, there is clearly demand for these services despite the barriers.

Additional resources on mobile money data and research are available through our Financial Inclusion Tracker Surveys project, and our mobile money data center.

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