Special Report: How COVID-19 Led To Mobile Money Acceptance, Boosts, Across Communities

Although the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak brought lots of economic hardship and predicament with many losing jobs and business, it brought a boost in mobile money and its acceptance in communities across Nigeria especially in Nasarawa state and Abuja communities.

Mobile money operators at the Ado area of Nasarawa state have said they are making good revenues because the outbreak of COVID-19 compelled community residents to accept and use mobile money which has triggered a boom in their business.

Miss Chika Chinyere, a mobile money operator, who spoke to MAWA Foundation officials at her Point of Sale (POS) stand located close to Aso Market, explained that since the COVID-19 outbreak, mobile money operators in her area are having a booming business and are making good revenues.

Chinyere said as soon as the government declared lockdown and imposed restrictions on movements, residents began to use Point of Sale (POS) as alternative means of transaction, a development she said led to a boom in their business.

Another mobile money operator, Miss Joy Agye who spoke to the MAWA Foundation officials, narrated how she is making good revenues since the outbreak of COVID-19. Agye who said she was sacked in one of the hotels along Keffi Abuja during the lockdown, disclosed that her elder brother established a POS business for her, and, since then she has been making good savings from the revenue she makes.

Rita Omala, another mobile operator, told the MAWA Foundation officials that there is hardly any member of her community especially market women who go to a banking hall for transactions, but, rather they will approach mobile money operators.

“Before the COVID-19, people just came to us to collect money, but now they deposit and send money to anybody they want through mobile money operators, they have accepted our service as an alternative to banking services,” Omala told MAWA officials.

Mrs. Joseph Seun, a mobile operator excited over his new line of business, told the MAWA officials that the outbreak of COVID-19 was a blessing to him and his colleagues.

Seun, however, said the pandemic rendered many jobless and poor but appealed to the youth to always think outside the box because the government cannot provide jobs for everybody.

The outbreak of coronavirus has seen the boom in the mobile business in the Koroduma community of Karu Local Government, Nasarawa state with mobile transactions becoming generally acceptable among residents.

Experts believe that the mobile money business is likely to blossom as many Nigerians are getting used to its reality. A situation that has since begun manifesting in the Koroduma community since the coronavirus outbreak, in the community, residents are beginning to patronize the Pay at Point of Sale (POS) agents.

Many of the residents believe that it is safer and less time consuming to use the POS than going to queue on the ATMs to collect money.

“I make between N3k to N4k daily in charges gotten from customers, I thank God for this coronavirus, it has changed my business,” Joy POS operator said.

Miss. Ufedo, a POS operator told the MAWA team that she disburses over three million daily, and in some cases, she finishes it and approaches her master for additional money.

Apart from making withdrawals, many residents have opted to making deposits at the POS instead of going to the banking hall.

Mr. Uche Ofor, another POS operator, told the MAWA Foundation team that since the coronavirus pandemic, he has not gone to the bank for any transaction, pointing out that he has since chosen POS as an alternative means of banking and other financial transactions.

Asked why he chose POS, he said, “why wasting your time going to banking hall at the risk of contracting coronavirus, while the POS agents can render the same service, and save your time and health”

Mr. Joy Peter, another Mobile money agent, told the MAWA team, her business has been booming since the outbreak of coronavirus and was very optimistic that mobile transaction has come to stay and will continue after the pandemic.

She added that she has over 1000 customers who rely on her to carry out their financial transactions. She however disclosed that with the outbreak of coronavirus, her business has been booming with the possibility of getting even better as Nigerians are getting used to mobile money.

Miss. Adama, a mobile money operator at the Aso area of Mararaba in Nasarawa state also narrated how the COVID-19 outbreak has led to the community acceptance of digital money.

Adama while speaking to the MAWA officials, explained that when the government imposed a lockdown, an action she took to restrict citizens’ movements to contain the spread of the virus, the residents in her area resorted to the use of digital money as alternative means of transaction.

She, however, disclosed that a good number of residents in her area now prefer transaction via Point of Sale (POS) to going to queue on the ATM which many of them say it is time consuming and furthers exposes them to COVID-19.

Adama said before the outbreak of COVID-19 some persons considered mobile money as a scam and not reliable, but, they have now come to realize that digital money is real and the best way to carry out their financial transactions because it is easy and saves time.

She told MAWA Foundation officials that the huge acceptance of digital money, had led to the emergence of many POS stands in her community and other places in Nasarawa and Abuja satellite towns.

This is even as she pointed out that during the COVID-19, digital money boomed so well that many of the mobile operators were going to bank three to four times daily to withdraw money and satisfy customers who trooped to different POS stands to carry out their financial transactions.

Adama said with the high acceptance of digital money, in no distance time, many ATMs are likely to be closed. She added that many rural communities that spend money coming to the urban centres to get money from the bank, now do that using a POS in their area.

The acceptance of digital money has reduced the risk of carrying money from one location to another, making the business less risky in Nasarawa state and other parts of the country, Adama told MAWA Foundation officials.

Some residents of the Keffi area of Nasarawa state have said the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has made them adopt the use of Point of Sale (POS) as their only means of a financial transaction.

Point of Sale (POS) operators in Keffi told the MAWA Foundation team that the Coronavirus pandemic has brought a boost and acceptance in an electronic transaction among the people while they are making a huge profit as operators.

Saliu, a POS operator at the G.R.A Keffi, told the MAWA Foundation team that people got tired of long queues in banks and they now find POS as an alternative means of transaction.

“Despite the charges incurred using POS, people prefer using it to wasting their time on long queues at banks ATMs, and that has become the norm since the coronavirus outbreak began”, Saliu said.

Saliu who said he is making a huge profit as a mobile money agent, attributed his success to his location, pointing out he operates in a residential area where people could just step out of their houses to perform transactions rather than go waste their time in the bank.

Miss. Blessing, who operates POS beside the Access Bank branch in Keffi, said the business booms because when people get tired of waiting in the queue, they opt to the use of POS to save their time and also prevent themselves from contacting COVID-19.

She told the MAWA Foundation team that except for special cases where customers will need to enter into the banking hall, they prefer using POS to make withdrawals or transfer funds without any hitches.

Miss Rebecca, a Keffi resident, while speaking to MAWA, said since the Coronavirus outbreak, she cannot waste her time in the bank, but rather prefers to use the POS.

“Since the Coronavirus pandemic, I have no reason to visit the bank, I prefer to make my transaction using POS and pay the charges than wait on long queues in the bank at the risk of contacting the COVID-19,” Rebecca said.

Other POS users, who spoke to MAWA Foundation officials in front of the First Bank KKeffi branch, said they have no problem using POS because the operators are everywhere, pointing out it saves  time and prevent crowd which is one major way of contacting COVID-19

This report is supported by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA)

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