Jason Nicco-Annan, Content writer   28 May 2020

A selection of older phones like Nokia Apple 4 on a white background

In many ways, the global pandemic has brought with it the dawn of something new.

COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown has affected all areas of our daily lives.

There’s been a lot discussed about the long-term attitudes that we should be considering at this time, as well as a more in-depth look at the way we operate, do business and interact with each other.

In Ghana, customers and businesses are embracing this shift to deal with the health impacts of COVID-19. Financially, many Ghanaians in the country and abroad need to send money to help support their loved ones, who may be impacted by the spread of the virus.

Thankfully, mobile money (MoMo) is the innovation that has, in the past few years, transformed the traditional ways of transacting business and transmitting money.

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Mobile money in Ghana

Mobile money is a fast, convenient, secure and affordable way of transferring money, making payments and doing other transactions using a mobile phone. It’s estimated that 3 to 4 million Ghanaians are living abroad, many of whom regularly send money to their families back home via mobile money.

WorldRemit’s money transfer service makes sending money to Ghana simple and affordable for the Ghanaian diaspora. Mobile money is now one of the most important services for these transactions, creating financial access, social impact, and economic opportunity for Ghanaians nationwide and worldwide.

When mobile money was first introduced in Ghana in 2009, it took a while to gain as much traction as in other African countries due to the Bank of Ghana’s restrictive 2008 Branchless Banking Guidelines. Five years later, however, the Bank of Ghana revised regulations and eventually released new agent and e-money guidelines. These new regulations permitted mobile network operators (MNOs) to own and operate mobile money services under the supervision of the Central Bank.

Shortly after that, new players — like the telecommunications giant MTN — began heavily investing in creating awareness, educating customers and recruiting agents and merchants. According to a Summary of Economic and Financial Data published by the Bank of Ghana in March this year, there are now 14.7 million active mobile money accounts and 235,000 active agents.

Why is mobile money so popular in Ghana?

In just a few years, mobile money has become one of the most preferred payment methods for Ghanaians. According to a 2019 report by the World Bank, Ghana has become the fastest-growing mobile money market in Africa.

Figures from Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) also indicate that mobile money interoperability (MMI) increased by 358% in the first quarter of 2020. 

One of the main reasons why mobile money services are increasingly popular is their convenience. Mobile money subscribers enjoy the ease of having instant access to their money at any time and anywhere. So, there’s no need to join long queues at the bank to withdraw or deposit money.

The rise of mobile money’s popularity also provides employment opportunities. It offers unemployed individuals the opportunity to work with service providers as registered merchants or agents.

Mobile money services initially emerged on the global scene as a tool to further financial inclusion — enabling people that were initially excluded from the formal financial system to gain tools and access to more mainstream services. Then, further innovations in the mobile money industry have revolutionized the way people financially interact in Ghana for good.

Mobile money interoperability, for example, was introduced in Ghana two years ago. It now allows for the seamless transfer of money from one mobile money account to another, across all networks.

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How does mobile money work?

Mobile money services are usually owned and operated by either a mobile network operator (like MTN, AirtelTigo or Vodafone) or a financial institution (like a bank).

The mobile money services that are typically offered include:

  • Peer-to-Peer (P2P) money transfers
  • Bill payment
  • Salary disbursement 

P2P, where mobile money is transferred from one person to another person, tends to be the most commonly used. 

Mobile money services also offer methods for turning physical cash into electronic funds in a customer’s mobile account (also called “cash-in”) and methods for turning electronic funds into physical cash (also called “cash-out”). The expansion of agents offered users more cash-in and cash-out opportunities and increased the overall convenience of using mobile money. 

So, how can you start with mobile money?

  • First, you should make sure that your recipient already has a mobile money account.
  • You will need the recipient’s mobile money account number and network name.
  • Review all the information to be sure that you've entered the correct recipient mobile number since numerous providers cannot guarantee the reversal of your transaction. 

Choosing the best mobile money service in Ghana - things to consider


MTN Mobile Money

MTN Mobile Money has been the largest and the oldest mobile money player in the market since it was launched in Ghana almost a decade ago. Customers can visit the nearest authorised MTN Merchant with a valid photo ID card, such as:

  • National ID card
  • Voter ID, Drivers’ License
  • Passport 

With MTN Mobile Money, for example, the merchant captures your personal details and gives you an MTN Mobile Money SIM card. You then insert your Mobile Money SIM in your phone, and you will receive an SMS prompting you to register. You can also register for MTN Mobile Money online by just visiting the MTN mobile money website.  

Pros

  • Keeping true to their “Everywhere You Go” brand slogan, MTN has a vast network of agents available for you to register with and make withdrawals or deposits from.
  • The MTN brand has broad recognition and appeal amongst local businesses.
  • You can receive funds instantly onto your MTN MoMo wallet from any part of the world anytime, anywhere in Ghana.
  • MTN has partnered with several remittance partners, including WorldRemit, across the world to make this service available. 

Cons

  • MTN’s network experiences occasional downtime, so it can be frustrating for subscribers whose payments are delayed because the system is down.

More about MTN Mobile Money

Vodafone Cash

Vodafone, the second-largest mobile telecom company, launched its Vodafone Cash mobile money? service in Ghana in 2015.

The mobile money platform has 2 million registered subscribers. It has a vast reach in rural areas with value-added services, such as their mobile agriculture initiative called Farmer’s Club.

Pros

  • There are zero charges when you send any amount of money for as many times as you want to other Vodafone Cash customers.
  • When there is money in your wallet, you’re the only one who can withdraw from or send cash with it. All transactions are initiated and authorised from you.
  • Subscribers can use Vodafone Cash to pay for other Vodafone services (such as fixed broadband) and don’t need to visit a physical shop.
  • Vodafone Cash is integrated with the Vodafone App, which allows mobile users to pay bills, school fees and utilities quickly. 

Cons

  • Vodafone customers sometimes complain about the network challenges and particular issues with service stability in remote towns and areas outside cities.

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AirtelTigo Money

In 2017, network providers Airtel and Tigo formally joined forces to form AirtelTigo and subsequently merged their mobile money services to create AirtelTigo Money. With 400 retail outlets and over 2000 network locations across the country, AirtelTigo provides a wide range of services. 

Pros

  • Customers can send money to family and friends through AirtelTigo Money at zero charges.
  • Customers can also send money up to GHS 100 to all networks at no cost.
  • New subscribers can register AirtelTigo Money via their WhatsApp line.
  • Customers that receive GHC 500 or more from remittances enjoy free international calls.

Whichever way you choose to send mobile money abroad, we’d like to offer you the opportunity to start sending money online free today with no fee on your first three transactions when you create an account.

Click here for more details!

Send money with WorldRemit

Disclaimer: WorldRemit and its affiliates do not provide financial advice. This article has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for financial advice. You should consult your own financial advisors before engaging in any transaction.