By Fred SARPONG
A survey conducted by Ericsson Consumer Lab in Ghana, Tanzania and South Africa has shown that Ghana recorded a low patronage of Mobile Commerce service in the country.
The data used for this report has a representative sampling of the population aged 16 to 60 and is based on 526 face-to-face interviews in Ghana, 502 face-to-face interviews in Tanzania and 1020 face-to-face interviews in South Africa.
Quantitative fieldwork and extensive in-depth interviews with 31 consumers evenly distributed in three markets were conducted in Ghana (Accra), South Africa (Johannesburg), and Tanzania (Dar-Es-Salaam).
According to the report, interview persons were chosen to represent the financial scope of urban consumers, and were both users and non-users of mobile commerce.
BusinessWeek learnt that top three fields of current m-commerce use in these three countries were transfer money, buy airtime and pay for electricity (Tanzania); access account information, transfer money and buy airtime (Ghana); and receive salary, buy airtime and access account information (South Africa).
The survey revealed that in all three countries, network carriers have a lot of clout with their customers.
‘When discussing their operators’ competence, it is the technical capacity that consumers refer to when ascribing expertise. The reliability of service, network coverage in rural areas and access of agents and retailers, are major factors that contribute to trust,’ the report stated.
It is stated that “even if most people are very positive to their primary operator, that operator does not have any exclusively. When deciding on a new operator, people do not usually give up an old one.”
The number of SIM cards used among consumers in these three countries indicates that in Ghana 66% of the mobile phone users use one SIM, 26% use two SIMs while 8% use three or more SIMs cards.
In Tanzania, 57% use one SIM, 35% also use two SIMs and the remaining 11% use three or more SIMs.
In South Africa, 95% of the mobile phone users used one SIM while 5% of them use two SIMs.
Among consumers interviewed, present use of mobile money services was primarily for person-to-person transfers and for purchasing airtime. Additionally, bill-payment and electricity purchases are important fields of use
The survey revealed that in bill payments, opportunities to use m-commerce often remain limited. Electricity purchases and satellite television (in case of South Africa and to a lesser extent Ghana) are currently primary fields for bill payment using mobile-money. Similar to transfers, paying bills with mobile money is an alternative to previous models of going to physical offices to pay bills.
The survey shows that mobile money services in Tanzania was high, as the country recorded 67% as against 9% for Ghana and 24% for South Africa.
Tanzania recorded 60% in mobile payments as compared to 6% for Ghana and 19% for South Africa. On mobile money transfer, Tanzania had 42%, Ghana 1% while South Africa had 4%. Mobile banking in Tanzania is common, as about 19% of the mobile users are familiar with the process, compared to 3% for Ghana and 13% for South Africa.
The report also noted that 50% of the Tanzanians use mobile phone to airtime or phone credit; 38% use phone to transfer money from one person to the other, while 13% also use mobile phone to pay bills like water and power.
In Ghana, 5% of the 23 million Ghanaians who use mobile phone use it to buy airtime or phone credit. About 2% Ghanaian phone users use mobile phone to read their account detail, while 1% knows how to use mobile phone to transfer money from person to person.
About 12% South Africans use mobile phone to buy airtime, 10% receive their wages and salary through mobile phone, while 8% read their account details through phone.
The report noted that many consumers are still unaware of the opportunities offered by mobile commerce, and harbour misconceptions about aspects such as safety. Consumers unused to virtual accounts tend to worry about the integrity of their account in case of loss of a phone.
It suggested that general knowledge about costs and benefits of the service must be increased. There is a window of opportunity for operators who already have an established relationship with consumers and for agents that are easily accessible, because they have a wide presence also in rural areas.