1 Mar 21

Public transport could boost mobile money in Ghana – and vice versa

Mobile payments, one of the most popular digital applications in Africa, could also help to revolutionise the continent’s various mobility ecosystems. A point in case: Ghana, where the acceptance of mobile money on public transport could soon make it more convenient to use both.

Transactions via mobile wallets and mobile phones represent a staggering 87% of Kenya’s GDP. That is Africa’s highest share, but Ghana is not that far behind: in the West African country, mobile payments represent 82% of the nation’s GDP.

Cash-Lite Roadmap
Mobile payments fill a major gap in the lives of many Africans, who lack access to traditional banking services – hence the popularity of the various formats of ‘mobile money’. 

That is also why Ghana has adopted the Cash-Lite Roadmap, back in May 2020. Driving the implementation of the Roadmap’s targets is a brand-new Digital Payments Coordination Unit (DPCU).  

A key target is to make digital payments the norm for all government services, first and foremost in the urban areas. This includes the installation of cashless payment points at toll roads, car parks and truck stands. 

Tro-tro minibuses
Expanding on those requirements, the Ghanaian government is now pondering to require public transport operators to accept mobile money instead of cash only, writes The Africa Report.

That could be a way to scale up the use of cashless payments in the country. Buses especially are a popular way for Ghanaians to get around. Take for instance the ‘tro-tro’ minibuses in the capital Accra (pictured). 

They are the city’s most popular mode of transport. One bus can take up to 19 people. Before COVID-19 ground shared transport to a halt, they transported 70% of the people of Accra. 

Broaden acceptance
While mobile payments may have achieved some popularity in Ghana, this is largely limited to bigger cities. Right now, many people are still wary of mobile payments – many market traders still won’t accept it. Creating additional use cases will broaden acceptance. 

Paying for government services with mobile money is one thing, another suggestion is making it possible to pay utility bills via mobile payment. Linking public transport, a popular and everyday part of most Ghanaians’ life, to mobile money, could give the payment method the scale-up the government wants.

Innovation may also flow in the other direction. Having established a universally accepted payment method for various forms of public transport, Ghana could turn into a laboratory for various new business models in terms of shared mobility.

Authored by: Frank Jacobs