ACMFI | The Launch

This week I made my first trip to Lagos in Nigeria for the launch of the African Center for Mobile Financial Inclusion. Along with my fellow directors from the UK, India, Canada and Nigeria, we converged on AITEC’s Banking and Mobile Money Conference at the newly renovated Eko Hotel for two days from frantic enthusiasm.

Faced with a panel of local suppliers, bankers, technologists and regulators, we set about creating the vision of ACMFI. Collaboration and Convergence to drive the adoption of mobile technology as a means for financial inclusion in Africa.

Africa is no stranger to mobile financial services, as the birth place of services such as M-Pesa, MTN Mobile Money, CelPay and Zap. Today with dozens of countries with low financial services accessibility and high mobile penetration, the African continent as proven time and time again that it is positioned perfectly for the sustainable adoption of Mobile Financial Services. But why have nations like Nigeria lagged behind their neighbours? A country with nearly 170 million people roughly 40% mobile penetration and very low bank account numbers. To date Nigeria has followed the cautious road using regulation to hold back providers before the Central Bank has time to get comfortable with this new way of performing financial transactions.

Hence we are left in a position that I have heard Hannes van Rensburg call ‘The Perfect Storm’. A market ripe and ready, just awaiting ‘approval’.

Thus creating the ideal setting for the launch of ACMFI, a body ideally positioned to share global experiences with the people of Africa and Nigeria to ensure a collaborative approach to launching services.

So what is ACMFI? ACMFI is the creation of center that will undertake research, policy and regulatory reforms, data sharing point, accelerate adoption and use of mobile technology as a means for financial services in Africa.

The vision was launched by ACMFI Secretary General, Emmanuel Okoegwale to a packed audience and what followed was more than we could have ever wished for. Dozens of various players in the market wanted to know more and wanted to know how they can get involved.

For the remainder of the event, AMCFI Chairman Prof. Prof.S.Subramanian, Director of Corporate Affairs Santanu Sengputa and myself met with each potential supporter to take them through the details of the vision and how it will work. By the end of the second day we had meet with approx 70 potential members ranging from regulators, technology suppliers, bankers, and service providers. Each with their own perspective and interest on the area of Mobile Financial Services. It was amazing to watch them come to life as they spoke of their area of passion.

We leave Lagos having met our two goals, firstly to formally launch the center and second to gain a list of potential member organizations. Africa and more specifically West Africa now has a center whose primary purpose is to drive collaboration and I am personally delighted to take up my role as the Director of Strategy and Partnerships.