Digital financial services, and mobile money (m-money) in particular, have generated considerable enthusiasm and hope for a reduction in remittance fees for the rural poor. This is especially the case in Sub-Saharan Africa, where remittances account for 2.5 percent of the region’s gross domestic product (World Bank 2018). Yet despite substantial volumes of remittances, transfer costs are among the highest in the world (World Bank 2018), thereby reducing the income available for migrants and recipient households. M-money adoption in Sub-Saharan Africa,however, remains low and limited to specific countries (Vasudevan et al. 2016, UNCDF 2017) despite a rate of mobile ownership of over 67 percent. In Niger, our country of study, m-money adoption in 2017 was estimated at 9 percent (Demirgüç-Kunt et al. 2018). We use data on the supply of and demand for money transfer services to better understand the low m-money adoption in Niger. Overall, we find that demand for sending and receiving remittances is substantial. Nevertheless, fewer than 3 percent of households use m-money despite relatively high rates of mobile phone ownership and the comparable costs of other transfer services. While rural households are willing to pay the cost of sending a transfer via m- money, there is significant heterogeneity by region, primarily correlated with access to agents. This suggests that one of the primary barriers to m-money adoption could be the agent network.
Jenny Aker (Tufts University), “Migration, Money Transfers, and Mobile Money: Evidence from Niger”, 2nd Sustainable Finance Center Conference, TSE, Toulouse, 2021.
2nd Sustainable Finance Center Conference, TSE, Toulouse, 2021