As JUMO’s Country Manager for Ghana, Arnold Kavaarpuo has been deeply involved in setting up and running successful digital credit products in the country through unique multi-partner agreements. He shares his thoughts, journey, skills, knowledge and experience.
“Digital financial services (DFS) are transforming the way the world accesses and uses financial products. In sub-Saharan Africa, the mobile money platform is a rich ecosystem for a collection of remittance services, savings, credit, investments and insurance products that serve 469 million account holders — according to the GSMA.
In 2019, Ghana was named the fastest growing mobile money market in Africa. CGAP also noted Ghana to be the most ‘DFS-ready’ country in Africa in 2015, with 92% of adults holding a form of ID required to open an account; 95% having basic numeracy; 91% owning a mobile phone and 74% already sending and receiving text messages. This underlying readiness may account for the significant market penetration of mobile money, especially amongst the unbanked in society. The Bank of Ghana reports that 15.5 million subscribers are active on mobile money platforms in Ghana, of which 10.2 million are MTN subscribers.
JUMO has been an active enabler in the mobile money ecosystem in Ghana. November marks the 4th anniversary of the commercial launch of QWIKLOAN — an easily accessible, short-term credit product. QWIKLOAN was the first commercially successful digital credit product in Ghana and its success and mass appeal set the scene for the introduction of XpressLoan and AhomkaLoan also powered by JUMO. Today, over 30 million loans to market traders, entrepreneurs and individuals have been underwritten through our platform, providing in excess of US$1billion in liquidity flows.
We use advanced data science and machine learning to create the fastest and leanest financial service infrastructure. Our partnerships business model and tech combine the strengths of Financial Service Providers (FSPs) and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to create, deliver and provide digital financial services products. FSPs bring their understanding and capacity for mobilising capital and their established relationship with financial service regulators. Similarly, MNOs have a depth of understanding and capacity for large-scale distribution and retail servicing. Our technology (and expertise) harnesses these complementary competencies to connect customers in the MNO ecosystem to dedicated FSP capital, affordably and at scale. The result is a combination of each partner’s best assets and capabilities.
As collective pioneers in our space, we must all invest in a robust and resilient ecosystem by sharing our experiences.
My role as country manager for JUMO requires that I find ways to interpret each partner’s operational, tactical and strategic intent and capabilities, within supportive and cooperative delivery and governance structures. As collective pioneers in our space, we must all invest in a robust and resilient ecosystem by sharing our experiences with regulators and industry so that Ghana remains one of the best markets for innovation.
A great example of this is the work I’ve done with the Ministry of Finance to develop the Digital Payments Roadmap for the country. As Ghana looks to a digital-led financial sector, sufficient technical and supervisory capacity to develop regulation that is technology-neutral, device-agnostic, principles-based, and proportional to risk (while concurrently increasing financial stability, integrity, and inclusion) is vital to building a robust ecosystem.
I strive to maintain awareness around how we can answer these three critical questions:
- How can we serve our customers better?
- How can we use the tools we have to create more opportunities for businesses and individuals?
- How can we do this in a customer-centric, responsible and sustainable way?
As long as we continue to ask these questions, new themes will emerge and the appropriate focus and attention will be applied.
I think the commercial and business model for digital financial services, especially those existing on mobile money ecosystems, has already been won. The positive impact of these initiatives is also already being seen by all stakeholders. The creation of the Fintech and Innovation Department within the Bank of Ghana and passage of the Payment Systems and Services Act gives further credence to the policy direction and potential for growth of the ecosystem. The National Financial Inclusion and Development Strategy, Digital Financial Services Policy and Digital Payments Roadmap offer policy credibility and line of sight for industry participants which can only spur greater interest and development. This is welcome news for someone in my position who is constantly looking for opportunities to forge cooperation and partnerships so we can reach the last mile, together.”