Mobile phones boost financial inclusion
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MOBILE money services have proved to be an efficient way in driving up financial inclusion and bringing social economic transformation of the financially marginalised population.

The FinScope Report 2017 findings released last week shows that access to financial services through use of mobile phone grew to 60 per cent from 50 per cent in four years period.

According to the report, access to financial services increased to 65.3 per cent from 15.8 per cent some eight years ago, thanks to the mobile digital innovation, expansion of banking services as well as other financial outlets.

In his key note speech, the Bank of Tanzania Governor Prof Benno Ndulu challenged the study findings for not going beyond to explore the impact of the increased financial inclusion.

“We should not stop at the findings but explore the implications and changes brought by the increased access to financial services to the financially underserved population,” he said.

He added, “The increased access to financial services in the country should be reflected in the decreased poverty level otherwise the good statistics will have no use,” He called the Financial Sector Deepening Trust (FSDT) that carried the study and other institutions involved in studies related to accessibility of financial services to go beyond the statistics and show its social economic changes.

Commenting on the FinScope report, the NMB Bank Managing Director Ms Ineke Bussemaker said innovation was key to bringing about friendly financial services to the financially marginalised population.

“As a banking sector we still have to do more and use the 28 per cent of the population that has no access to any financial services as an opportunity to capitalise,” she said.

She said the bank is continuing to invest in technological innovation in order to reach more people and bring about positive changes in the rural urban centres.

The government funded Universal Communication Services Access Fund (UCSAF) projects that focused in unprofitable rural-urban areas have contributed to the transformation of the livelihood in the respective areas.

In recent media tour in three western regions of Tabora, Kigoma and Shinyanga unveiled that access to mobile money services has transformed farming practices, stimulated entrepreneurship spirit and an engine of job creation.

Small scale farmers in these areas can now get information about agricultural best practices and new developments. Main crops cultivated are tobacco, maize, watermelon and cassava. With mobile phones, farmers make calls or receive SMS alert messages giving tips and advice to improve farming practices and productivity.

Mobile banking has become an important instrument in promoting saving culture as banking services penetration in the country remains below 20 per cent of the population.

Mobile banking enable smallholder farmers and livestock keepers to save small amounts of money, receive payments promptly in times of need and pay for agricultural goods via their mobile phone services thus replacing costly traditional transfer services and the need to travel long distances to collect funds.

In another development, an official with FSDT Mr Elvis Mushi underscored the need to get close involvement of the youth in the country aged between 16 to 24 who are still excluded from the financial services.

“There is need for the financial service providers and telecommunication services to come up with appropriate goods for the youth in order to introduce them into the financial inclusion,” he said.

Similarly, financial services providers should consider strategies in establishing financial services in a given region in order to reduce the differences of statistics on financial inclusion. In his remarks at the panel discussion, Dr Fredrick Ringo pointed the need to have formal legal framework to include youth and other groups in the society which are financially excluded.

The report shows notable progress made in availing identification of citizens achieved through people acquiring voter’s registration cards by 83 per cent as the main form of identification of acquiring services from financial providers.

However, he underscored the need to have one identification organ that will help the financially underserved population for easy access of formal financial services.

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