13 Feb 2014

Chidi Okpala, Director of Airtel Money Africa: "Airtel investing to meet the needs of retailers and consumers"

120x120-Chidi Okpala
Chidi Okpala
Airtel Money Africa

The Com World Series team caught up with Chidi Okpala, Director of Airtel Money Africa to discuss burning issues on mobile financial services and mobile money ahead of East Africa Com taking place on the 20-21 in Nairobi, Kenya.

Com World Series: How is your company positioned in the regional market and how do you expect it to evolve over the next couple of years?

Chidi Okpala: In East Africa, Airtel Money is available in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. Across all four markets, the business is on a fast growth trajectory, with broadening embrace by consumers and corporates. We are now visibly at the forefront of efforts to create entire cashless payments ecosystems, deepen financial inclusion and reduce transaction costs across East Africa. We are leaders in the provision of integrated payments services for East African governments (all tiers), businesses, NGOs, embassies, religious institutions, schools and other types of institutions in the region. We are uniquely positioned as the only mobile money service across all four markets and over the next couple of years; we plan to leverage this unique positioning to further support the East Africa Community (EAC) economic and cooperation agenda.

Com World Series:  What is driving adoption and growth of mobile financial services and how do you expect the mobile money market to evolve over the coming year?

Chidi Okpala: The key drivers vary across the markets but P2P, Airtime and solutions for corporates has been big for us. In the coming years, mainstream financial services like loans, savings and insurance should be a lot more prominent. Our brand and best in class quality of service and security levels have also been a strong asset for us and made it easier for consumers to enroll and adopt Airtel Money.

Com World Series: How do the various stakeholders work together at the moment and what progress still needs to take place?

Chidi Okpala: The Airtel brand is a well-known and loved brand in Africa we have had the rare privilege of enjoying immense support from banking and communication regulators, governments, communities and other economic actors across our countries of operation. This has helped us lead in customer experience, product innovation and regulatory compliance across Africa. We are currently investing in deepening these engagements to ensure that we create prosperity for a lot more Africans by widening access to financial services. 

Com World Series: What are the remaining challenges in the mobile money area these days and how can they be overcome?

Chidi Okpala: As an industry, we require a lot more cooperation to compete; we believe that what binds us is greater than what separates us. We must see CASH as our sole competitor and hence should collaborate more to reduce cost and increase impact in our communities. We are already leading efforts to interoperate with other operators in Rwanda and this will have immense impact in the welfare of the Rwandese people. We see no reason why the industry should not interoperate across East Africa by end of this year.

Com World Series: What impact do you think mobile money can and will have on the retail sector in East Africa?

Chidi Okpala: The Retail sector is an important space for us and we are investing more in new products and services to ensure we bring solutions that match the needs of retailers and their consumers. Cash is the primary means of payments at retail points today and the cost of cash to both retailers and consumers is significant and unsustainable. There are also health challenges associated with cash handling. We have started implementing solutions that will take away these pains in a convenient and seamless fashion.

Com World Series: What other areas do you think MFS is likely to tap into in the near future?

Chidi Okpala: Mainstream financial services, healthcare, education, public transportation, m-government and Agriculture are just to name a few.

Com World Series: What do you hope to get out of participating in East Africa Com?

Chidi Okpala: Essentially, to learn from colleagues across the industry and engage with stakeholders on how we can collaborate better and deepen our societal impact

295x140-EastAfricaCom_2014 Find out more at East Africa Com - Chidi Okpala will be speaking on Day 1 at 14:30 on “Mobile financial services for operators”. Register Here