May 1, 2022

How to Improve Women's Use of Mobile Money in Ghana

"In Sub-Saharan Africa, women are 13 percent less likely than men to own a mobile phone; while 75 percent of women own a mobile, 74 million remain unconnected," says a report published by the GSMA. What is more, "In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where people are less likely to have formal bank accounts, mobile money is critical to facilitating widespread financial inclusion. ... While wider coverage and mobile ownership is making mobile money more accessible and relevant in people's everyday lives, a persistent gender gap is leaving women behind."

The GSMA explains that its "report focuses on the mobile money user journey in Ghana, highlighting the impact of COVID-19 on mobile money usage for men and women and the barriers to greater usage, with a specific focus on women entrepreneurs." The report's findings "highlight that beyond the high level numbers, women entrepreneurs lag behind in their awareness and usage of the non-core mobile money services in Ghana, which could add value to their businesses."

Below are the report's key findings:
  1. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of mobile money services among men and women in Ghana.
  2. Mobile money is transitioning from an everyday cash replacement to a true banking alternative, but women entrepreneurs tend to use a narrower range of services than men.
  3. Most male and female mobile money users anticipate that they will use mobile money as often, if not more, in a post-COVID world.
  4. There are opportunities to increase awareness and use of mobile money services beyond payments, particularly among women entrepreneurs.
  5. Women, including entrepreneurs, need more support from others to learn about and use mobile money.
  6. Sustaining mobile money usage among new male and female users who signed up during the COVID-19 pandemic will require overcoming some additional barriers.

The GSMA points out that "Ghana is one of the most mature mobile money markets in the world and, despite having relatively low levels of gender equality, progressive policy and regulatory reforms have improved financial inclusion for men and women since the COVID-19 pandemic." However, as the findings in the report highlight, "that beyond the high level numbers, women entrepreneurs lag behind in their awareness and usage of the non-core mobile money services in Ghana, which could add value to their businesses."

The report importantly adds: "Users who adopted mobile money during the pandemic are less likely than longer term users to be aware of, and use, the full range of services available to them. Since they depend more heavily on agents and family to use their account and are less likely to handle transactions themselves, these users will need additional, on-going support."

To help provide users with on-going support, the report presents the following recommendations:
  1. "As life returns to normal, ensure that men and women who signed up for mobile money during the COVID-19 pandemic have the knowledge and skills they need to continue using it. This group currently lags behind longer term users in terms of knowledge and use of mobile money. As Ghana starts to recover from the pandemic, it is crucial that new users are given clear and accurate information on the benefits of using mobile money longer term. This will help ensure that usage expands and becomes entrenched in day-to-day life, not just during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. "Drive usage by increasing women's awareness of the range of mobile money services available. While there is almost no gender gap in account ownership in Ghana, women use a narrower range of mobile money services than men. It is clear that the experiences of men and women differ. For entrepreneurs, this is especially evident in the awareness of non-core mobile money services. Lower awareness is mirrored by lower usage – increasing knowledge through marketing and other approaches aimed at women and women entrepreneurs is likely to lead to greater uptake of a wider selection of mobile money services.
  3. "Improve women's understanding of mobile money to reduce their reliance on others. Women, including women entrepreneurs, are significantly more likely than men to rely on others when learning to use mobile money. Without concerted efforts to reduce women’s reliance on others, this is likely to limit the way they engage with the service, including the range of services they use and the frequency of usage. More needs to be done to provide training resources to women signing up to mobile money to ensure the information they receive is comprehensive and correct. For example, mobile money providers could incentivize agents to provide hands-on support to women to demonstrate how the service works and improve their confidence in using it. Supporting women to use the full range of mobile money services independently is likely to deliver more substantial benefits to women, and women entrepreneurs in particular, as well as higher revenues for the mobile industry."

What are you recommendations for improving women's use of mobile money in Ghana?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

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