Mobile Money and Savings in Norhtern Ghana

Mobiles for Savings?
Mobile Money and Savings in Ghana
Jenny C. Aker, Tufts University
Robert Asambobillah, Catholic Relief Services
Kim Wilson, Tufts University
March 2013
Catholic Diocese of Wa
Aker, Asambobillah and Wilson Savings in Ghana
Savings in Ghana
Under the mattress
Readily available for
Can be stolen, lost,
Savings clubs (SILCs)
Safe, promotes group
collaboration and can
save larger amounts
Isn’t readily available for
emergencies (“shareout” occurs at particular
Susu collecter
Enforced savings
Fees, theft
Share risk across
different geographic
High transaction costs to
remittances (time, bus
fare, etc)
Aker, Asambobillah and Wilson Savings in Ghana
Mobile Money
• Allows users to send and receive money via
simple SMS messages and codes
• Relatively secure (linked to phone number and
PIN number)
• High mobile coverage in Ghana
 60 percent of the population with coverage, 50 percent
with access to a mobile phone
• M-money introduced since 2009 (five operators)
 Adoption and usage still low – 2 percent of the population
Aker, Asambobillah and Wilson Savings in Ghana
Research Questions
• Can m-money can promote financial inclusion of the
world’s poor, particularly those living in rural areas?
• If some of the barriers to m-money adoption are
addressed, can it be used to:
 Provide cash transfers to extremely vulnerable
populations? (Tufts and Concern Worldwide Niger)
 Facilitate savings within rural areas, either by
allowing individual members of savings groups to
save, facilitating savings among different savings or
promoting savings objectives?
 Allow households to more easily receive remittances
from migrants? (Aker, Clemens, Ksoll 2012)
Aker, Asambobillah and Wilson Savings in Ghana
Action-Oriented Research
• Target: Savings group members in four villages in the
Jirapa district of Upper West region (Zaghe,
Nyenvaare, Tigboro, Kuchen)
 Rural areas with mobile phone coverage, all within 10 km
of Jirapa town (MTN m-money agent), part of CRS and
Catholic Diocese’s SILC program
• Four interventions provided (designed to partially
address the barriers to m-money adoption)
 Each village received a slightly different combination of
 Villages were randomly assigned to each intervention
(fairness and limited differences between groups)
Aker, Asambobillah and Wilson Savings in Ghana
Action-Oriented Research: Interventions
• Treatment 1: Mobile phone raffle. Five savings group members won a mobile
phone via a public raffle. The concept of m-money and savings was discussed,
but detailed information on the product and how to use it was not provided.
• Treatment 2: Mobile phone sensitization. Savings group members received a
sensitization module on m-money. The training used posters with illustrations
of a mobile phone, an explanation on the link between savings groups and
mobile phones, and a short skit.
• Treatment 3: Mobile phone raffle plus sensitization. Five savings group
members won received a mobile phone via a raffle, plus the sensitization
• Treatment 4: Mobile phone to group leaders plus sensitization. In this group,
mobile phones were provided to the savings group leaders (presidents and
treasurers) and members received the sensitization.
• All groups received a visit from the MTN mobile money agent and access to
free m-money SIM (worth 1 cedi).
Aker, Asambobillah and Wilson Savings in Ghana
Research Goals Research: Sensitization
Aker, Asambobillah and Wilson Savings in Ghana
• 100% registration (163 individuals)
 Free SIM cards but time and willingness to give national
health insurance ID card or voter ID card
 Open acceptance of the product
• 40% using the service
 Sending money to pay school fees
 Receiving money from migrants
 Saving money (especially after share-out)
Aker, Asambobillah and Wilson Savings in Ghana
Kuchen’s usage is lower....but is it
because of the “sensitization
only” or because they are farther
away from Jirapa with poorer
mobile phone coverage?
Mobile raffle
56% use, 10% save
Mobile raffle + sensitization
33% use, all save
Sensitization only
23% use, 2% save
Mobile to leaders +
33% use
Aker, Asambobillah and Wilson Savings in Ghana
“I used m-money to send money to pay my child’s school
Savings group member in Zaghe, December 2012
“My brother sent me money and I bought fences to fence
my seedlings…’’
Savings group member in Tigboro, December 2012
“Saving on the phone is safer…it is not with me!”
Savings group member in Kuchen, December 2012
“The phone is better, because sometimes the person
delays…or “eats” the money.”
Savings group member in Nyenvaare, December 2012
Aker, Asambobillah and Wilson Savings in Ghana
• Initial registration took time (delays in MTN agent’s visit to
the village)
• Time to register once in the village was long (poor service
in villages, only one mobile phone)
• To resolve this, the savings agent and MTN collected the
IDs to register them – but in some cases MTN had the IDs
for 1-2 months (voter IDs, national health insurance)
 Very risky for MTN, CRS, DDO, program recipients…
• Given delays, some individuals afraid to use it
 If I save, will I get it back?
• Dependence on us (DDO) to make transfers, deposit
money, etc
• Not all households own mobile phones – constrains usage
Aker, Asambobillah and Wilson Savings in Ghana
• Current expansion into twelve villages in Wa with
funding from Mastercard Worldwide
• Catholic Diocese implementing, with partnerships with
the University of Wa for data collection and Tufts for
design and analysis
Aker, Asambobillah and Wilson Savings in Ghana

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