The 6th annual Remittance & Mobile Money Expo, held today and tomorrow – Feb. 2 and 3 in Lagos, Nigeria, will address the challenges and opportunities in the emerging African remittance market. Billing itself as the largest gathering of stakeholders in the remittance ecosystem serving Africa, the conference will be at the Lagos Oriental Hotel. The theme of the conference, hosted by MobileMoneyAfrica, a resource for mobile financial inclusion, is “lowering transaction cost.” There will be more than 30 speakers.
According to MobileMoneyAfrica, Nigeria is the largest remittance destination in Africa, with $21 billion USD estimated in remittances for 2015.
The conference will cover improving regulatory frameworks that affect remittances, enhancing identification systems for cash-out, reducing costs and improving last mile efficiency.
It will also address the role of postal network and non-bank financial institutions in improving remittance services in Africa. Sessions will cover how digital remittances such as mobile money, cryptocurrencies and online transfers can lower remittance costs.
A Networking Opportunity
The conference will bring together executives from money transfer operators, banks, financial services providers, card processors, mobile network operators, switch operators, regulators, application providers and more. Case studies will include digital financial services, mobile payments, agency banking, cards, micro-finance, and innovators providing cross-border remittance services.
Attendees will hear from leading executives in Africa and discover how policies and emerging technologies affect the African remittance market.
Dialogue, Partnerships, Knowledge
One goal of the conference is to build a continental dialogue on remittances and explore how innovations can reduce costs.
Another goal is to initiate efforts among stakeholders to strengthen partnerships, share agency networks, open new market access and reduce remittance costs.
Still another goal is to develop a deeper understanding of evolving digital remittance services and provide insights to guide regulators and businesses and direct investment decisions in the African digital remittance market.
The market for cross-border money transfer to Africa is still young and faces emerging challenges compared to more established markets, the conference website noted. A competitive market is needed to foster access and drive the expansion required to reduce cost and reach underserved market segments.
African Remittance Market To Grow
According to the World Bank, the growth of remittances to Sub-Saharan Africa was expected to slow to 0.9 percent in 2015, amounting to $33 billion. Globally, it is expected to reach $586 billion, although at a slower growth rate of 0.4% on account of economic conditions. Global growth is expected to rebound to reach an estimated $636 billion in 2017.
The full size of remittance flows, including unrecorded flows, is estimated to be significantly larger. Remittances are the most tangible link between development and migration. They represent a large source of funding in many African countries.
In Lesotho, remittances are close to 30% of GDP; in Senegal, Cape Verde, and Togo, they are more than 10% of GDP.
In Egypt, remittances exceed the revenue from the Suez Canal. In Morocco, they surpass tourism revenue.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest remittance destination, was estimated to receive $21 billion in 2015.
However, a significant amount of the remittances moved through formal financial channels that imposed fees that lowered payments. The World Bank estimated that fees and restrictive practices cost poorer countries up to $16 billion a year.
Challenges To Remittance Market
Remittances in sub-Saharan Africa have been more stable than foreign direct investments. They play an important role in reducing poverty and help households diversify their sources of income.
Despite the contributions of remittances, many of the benefits are lost in intermediation due to high charges by service providers.
African migrants face excessive charges not only on international remittances; some of the world’s most expensive remittance corridors are within the Africa itself.
While Africa has made progress in mobile technology adoption, the innovation has yet to reduce costs in remittance markets.
See Who’s Speaking
Conference speakers include: Eric Barbier, CEO, Transferto; Sudhesh Giriyan, COO, Xpress Money; Colin Vickerie, CEO, Cash4Africa; Kolapo Solesi, CEO Merchant & Agent Transactions Ltd.; Kwaku Saforo, head of remittance operations, eProcess S.A.; Stone Atwine, CEO, Remit Uganda; Odette Sarr Bolly, regional program officer, Inter Organization for Migration; Gavin Young, DMD, Chams Mobile; Michael Kent, CEO, Azimo; Kevin Hawkins, head, SADC, Terra; Emmanuel Paul, business development director, Creova; Jay Alabraba, director of business development, Paga; Frederic Ponsot, remittances and financial inclusion specialist, IFAD; Dare Okoudjou, CEO, MFS Africa; Joyce Kim, executive director, Stellar.org; Marcel Tchoulegheu, mobile payment support engineer, MTN Cameroon; Antonio Separovic, CEO, Oradian; Andrew Takyi-Appiah, co-founder, Zeepay; Kemi Okusanya, regional director, Anglo Wa Moneygram; Graham Tonkin, head of business development, Monetas; Jay Vix, global director of marketing, Transfast; Jean-Francois Groff, CEO, Mobino; Vugar Mammadrzaye, international sales manager, Universal Payment Transfer; Raymond Moodley, executive director, Redcloud Technologies Ltd.; Yves Eonnet, CEO, Tagattitude; Ahmed Cassim, CEO, Hello Paisa; Tim Mitja Zagar, co-founder, Cashila; Komal Rathi, COO, Transfast; Nana Yaa Boakye-Adjei, associate director, Developing Markets Associates; Bashir Are, CCO, fets; Jerry Ejikeme, CEO, Sochitel Group.
Image from Shutterstock and MobileMoneyAfrica.