Literally, Nigeria is several miles away from catching up with Kenya in mobile money usage.

According to a 2016 data from the Central Bank of Kenya released in March 2017, Kenyans moved a record $33 billion via mobile money platforms such as Safaricom, Airtel or Mobikash in 2016, up from $27.8 billion from the previous year.

This was in contrast with Nigeria, where mobile money users moved only $2.4 billion, about 756 billion naira.

The surge in mobile money transactions in Kenya by about $6 billion consolidated the country’s global position in the use of the technology that has revolutionised its financial sector.

The volume of cash transacted on the platform surpassed Kenya’s 2017/2018 budget, which was estimated at 25 billion dollars, underlying the role of the service to citizens and the economy.

So, with a population more than double that of Kenya, deep mobile phone penetration at 84% and a healthy tech ecosystem, why has mobile money struggled in Nigeria?

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The answer, according to this Kenya banker, Julius Wanyaga who now heads Digital Banking at FCMB Nigeria, lies in three issues highlighted below:

1. Lack of Valid Platform: According to him, the sluggish adoption of mobile in Nigeria is because there has been lack of that unique solution that stole millions of customers from the traditional banks.

“Now, why the difference between Kenya and Nigeria? Kenyan banks had no choice. M-Pesa (mobile money) came in 2007 and it came with such a huge bang that banks had no choice than to change.

“What I see in Nigeria is that there hasn’t been that valid platform that has made banks spend sleepless nights worrying about the customers who are disappearing,” said Wanyaga.

“So, when there is a valid platform, you are like somebody being chased by a lion, even if you break your leg while running, you will still run. You will just discover later that your leg has broken.

The Kenyan case is a case where the platform debuted in 2007, and the banks realized that they were struggling, that the customers were disappearing, so they had to change,” he added.

2. Disconnect Between Banks And Digital Consumers: “There is a disconnect between the digital consumers in Nigeria, the digital natives’ (the digital natives are people who were born after 1980) expectations and what the banks are delivering.

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“Banks have historically been wired around relationships that are human driven and that are done in physical locations.

“The new customers are looking for convenience – they want to bank from their homes, they want to bank from their bedrooms and it is that disconnect that the banks need to close.

“One of the things that the banks can do is to believe that they can serve their customers without physically seeing them,” said Wanyaga at the last edition of Techpoint Inspired in Lagos during a panel discussion titled: Fintech Is Not A Threat To Nigerian Banks".

3. Mindset of Regulators: Continuing, he said regulators in Nigeria haven’t also helped matters as they insisted on complete analysis on fintech solution before giving it a legal backing.

He said: “The regulator in Kenya has a different mindset. The regulator in Kenya says, if we don’t know what you want to do, you just try, then we see. That is a different mindset from say, lets first analyse what you want to do, and we will allow you to do it. But to be honest, no one knows what is going to happen tomorrow. We only try.”

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