Businessmen in the country have expressed growing concerns over mobile financial services and are calling upon the government to, through the Bank of Tanzania (BoT), take precautionary measures.
The chairman of Tanzania Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture (TCCIA) in the Mbeya branch, Julius Kaijage, was quoted expressing worries over potential losses should the money service firms fold or otherwise experience share or stock falls.
“…my worry is that should these companies undergo financial downturns then customer funds are placed at risk?” As such, his advice to BoT is to regulate the mobile financial service activities to ensure that client’s money is safe.
Even more so, he recommends that BoT guarantee the mobile phone companies to secure the money in circulation in case of a worst case scenario like bankruptcy.
In other words, BoT should financially insure the service providers so that in the event of, admittedly unforeseeable, business crash they would have the reserve funds to pay off all transactions.
These fears are not shared across the table, in fact. The Tanzania Bankers Association (TBA) has asserted that mobile money services do not affect the banking industry in any negative way, on the contrary, they supplement each other, widening the financial market by allowing more Tanzanians to access the increasing range of services.
TBA chairman, Lawrence Mafuru is quoted in an interview with this paper expressing his view on the matter “...mobile money is a perfect innovation that has come at a perfect time…”
The chairman believes so, because according to him, the services have helped increase the number of Tanzanians who would otherwise have no or limited access to the banking sector and other financial service providers.
“…the country is working on improving access to the financial sector which has not been reached by the traditional ‘brick and mortar branch banking’…” he explained but clarified that more effort is needed to make the mobile money services safer.
In recent years, mobile phone companies in the country have established financial services attracting many rural as well as urban dwellers. The reception of the services have proved so promising that there is not a single mobile service provider that has not adopted the service with a twist of their own, Vodacom (Mpesa), Tigo (Tigo Pesa) and Zantel (Ezy-pesa)
Unlike the worry expressed by the TCCIA chairperson, the technology has been considerably efficient with users sending and receiving money without any major problems save for the occasional loss of secrete PIN numbers that have led to persons loosing funds to ‘virtual thieves’.