The United Nations has urged East Africa regulators to develop rules that would harmonise use of mobile money services.
The UN reckons that region-wide rules to co-ordinate and harmonise cell phone money transfers would not only ease access to the services, but also make the tools more useful and protect those who use them.
It says harmonisation of the money transfer operations at the EAC level would also enable intra-regional use of mobile money technology – a step that could boost economic growth.
“Governments need to address telecommunications and financial regulation to ensure mobile money services bring the desired broad benefits, especially to the poor,” the UN said in a report just released.
The report by its principal organ dealing with trade (UNCTAD), Mobile Money for Business Development in the East African Community: A Comparative Study of Existing Platforms and Regulations, focuses on East African Community (EAC) as a way of addressing the wider issues raised in mobile money transfers.
It says EAC offers more than a quarter of all mobile money systems in Africa, with about $500m transferred using cell phones each month, through the largest commercial services on offer.
“The rapid growth in mobile money services has added urgency to the need for an effective legal and regulatory framework,” UNCTAD adds.
It stresses that successful growth of mobile money will require heightened co-ordination and co-operation across the various regulatory and market sectors, such as telecommunications, banking, and e-commerce.
“Steps are needed to address concerns related to consumer protection, registration, and transaction limits, regulatory collaboration, interoperability, and interconnection between telecommunication networks,” it adds.