This follows my previous post on Mobile Money

The concept of trickledown economics is propagated by politicians who want to give tax breaks to the rich. Their idea is thus; money exclusively trickles down for the rich to the poor. So if you want to stimulate the economy, you do so at the top and the effect would flow downwards1.

Whilst I agree money trickles down vertically, it does so in multiple value chains, not exclusively rich à poor.

How does that relate to Mobile Money?

You see, there is this idea that since Mobile Money is targeted at the unbanked, it should be marketed at the unbanked. I think this is the wrong approach.

With exception to the Nigerian political ecosystem value chain2, a new money cycle generally trickles down from the banked to other banked or the unbanked.

Let me use an illustration.

The government gets money from oil sales (banked) à pays a road contractor (banked) à who now pays his sub-contractors (mostly banked) à who now pay their labourers (mostly unbanked) à who then pay the mama put woman (unbanked) etc.

That is just one value chain flow but you get the general idea.

Hence, if you want the labourers (unbanked) to store their money in the Mobile Money format, who do you market it to, them directly who are the unbanked or the sub-contractors who are the source of the labourer’s monies?

As it is now, it is the unbanked that are being marketed to mostly. I’d posit that it should be the sub-contractors that are the source of the unbanked’s money

It is not that simple though because for money to flow seamlessly (liquidity), both the giver and receiver have to be content with the transaction form.

Why should the unbanked labourer take money in a form that he cannot spend it in? He has no time to be talking Mobile Money when he needs to quickly condemn a plate of Eba and Egusi.  This is where the concept of TTL (Time To Liquidity) in my previous post comes to play.

However, if his Mobile Money wallet has a quick backup TTL (via a debit card tied to it or an ATM), it is much more viable to be considered. The labourer get paid his N2000 daily wage in Mobile Money, if the Mama put does not want to be paid in Mobile Money, he can quickly withdraw cash a form that is rather liquid.

In summary, for Mobile Money to kick-off in the above value chain, the most important persons are the sub-contractor and the labourer.  I believe rightly targeted marketing and a short TTL will do just that.


1Although money generally flows from top to bottom, the volume of traffic occurs at the bottom. So to stimulate the economy, the money should be fed to the bottom as quick as possible. Basically, whatever politicians tell you, do the opposite.

2From top to bottom in the Nigerian political value chain, it is cash. In Yobe State, local government allocation comes in cash.

Thanks to Tija and Osahon for helping me spot a million typos and grammatical errors.

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11 thoughts on “Mobile Money Marketing: The Banked, Unbanked and Trickle-Down Economics.

  1. Good write up Oo, I like the “Sub contractor – labourer” analogy. However, I think there’s a policy in place that doesn’t allow mobile money operators to issue debit cards and that’s a big bottleneck to your suggestion. Anyway the possibilities are endless, strategies need to be changed.

    1. They can withdraw from the banking hall, I doubt if an electronic card could be issued for a mobile money account. This is why majority of the banks are pushing it as an add-on to the regular bank account. Paga and co must find a way to navigate in this clime. Already banks are collaborating with telcos.

    2. Pocketmoni (eTranzact) and Firstmonie (FirstBank) issue mobile money debit cards today; does it work? that I don’t know

    3. well stanbic had a debit card issued to all mobile money subscribers as at last year. I had one and it worked seamlessly- even at Shoprite and other pos terminals. I don’t know if that has changed

    4. Chukky,

      Never heard of it. Any idea how to get it? I have Stanbic Mobile Money and was never notified of this development. Or was it still in testing and given to only a select few?

      Thanks for the heads up though.

      Oo Nwoye

    5. really? you should walk into a branch and inquire about it. while it was still being rolled out and all staff were required to get one to promote its use i am quite sure that it was available to members of the public as it was a much wanted feature that was stifling adoption of the product as people wanted to be able to withdraw cash and management at the time were eager to roll it out. I hardly doubt they would have discontinued such a prime feature of the product and so i do believe that it should still be available. go to a branch and see what they tell you

  2. This is my thoughts regarding mobile payment in Nigeria.

    1. The employers of the unbanked such as myself (we employ 40+), would not use it to pay salary because the employees need the cash to buy (garri,palm oil,airtime, and clear debts) daily. I would say majority of them cant afford mammaput or the likes. Affording mammaput is a different class on its own.

    2. The unbanked dont understand the mumbo jumbo of using their phone for storing money. Convincing them would involve spending 100s of millions of dollars of free cash, if nobody is willing to pay people to use it, then they can forget it.

    3. The unbanked are price sensitive. Except this mobile payment stuff is free, they wont use it. These is a segment that even haggles over 5 naira difference in price of stuff in the market.

    4. I think the propagators of mobile money should stop bullshitting, the fact is, most of the revenues if any comes from DSTV bill payments etc , which even if they do 100% of the transactions, which is impossible, is not much…

    5. I think they should focus on the white collar segment, and hopefully they can find a massive adoption use case, and since they are yet to brag about the revenue, but are currently still bragging about the “forced signup”; there is still yet a lot to be seen.

    1. You make a lot good points.

      I do not think that it would be too hard to teach them how to use mobile money on their phones though. Dash them 1k and you will see magic.
      Like I am arguing, banked people like you who interface directly with the unbanked should be targeted and motivated to teach the people how to use mobile money.
      The benefit should be explained to people like you.

      I also agree the white collar segment should not be ignored and should be shown usecases asides bill payment. Oo Nwoye

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