Lee-Anne Pitcaithly is Program Director, Mobile Financial Services Accelerator, Grameen Foundation Uganda.
Over the last few months, I have spent a lot of hours meeting with different financial services organisations discussing their planned mobile money integrations. In every instance, the financial institution was primarily addressing the integration only as a technology project. Thinking this way can set you up to fail as a business – and, more importantly, to fail your customers. Here are some other areas that you need to address when thinking about integrating with a mobile money operator.
Customer Service. How do you service the customer – and deal with disputes – when their only engagement with your institution is through a third-party agent? If your driving reason for integration with mobile money is to extend your reach, then your branch network cannot fulfill the role of servicing customers. Do you have a call centre that can help? Do you have the ability to trace all transactions back to the point and time of sale? What query-based solutions do you have with the mobile money provider to get your customers the answers they in the timeframe required?
Finance. What accounting changes do you need to make to account for balances that are held in the mobile money system? Will you need a series of suspense accounts between you and the provider to help with clear reconciliation? It is very important to all financial institutions that their customers trust them and that they believe that their transactions will be reflected accurately. On the whole, mobile money systems do not meet the very high standards of reconciliation of a CORE banking system. You will need to consider what gaps exist that you will need to fill manually.
Risk and Compliance. Working with a mobile money provider, as working with any third party who interacts with your customers, will affect your risk profile. As a business, you will need to review what legal, operational and reputational risks may be associated with integration to mobile money, and what mitigation plans you need to put in place.
This list is not exhaustive. You will probably also need to think about how you will sell and market to these customers.