Phone SMS is used for more than just text messaging in Africa

Nigerian youths have been discovered to utilise mobile money services mostly on Internet subscription.

GeoPoll, in a recent study to examine how African youths in six nations were engaging with financial services, noted that other top purchases with mobile money were airtime purchase, pay TV subscription and gambling.

In the report entitled, ‘The State of Financial Services in sub-Saharan Africa’, GeoPoll presented the findings from an extensive mobile web survey in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria, and Côte d’Ivoire with around 400 youths aged 18-35 from each country.

The findings indicated that there was consistency in mobile money activities across all the six countries where mobile money had a 28 per cent average use rate.

GeoPoll noted that youths in each country spent most of their mobile money on very similar products.

According to it, mobile money was the most popular payment method for gambling as 63 per cent of respondents said used mobile money for online gambling.

The findings showed that 54 per cent of the respondents paid for Internet access using mobile money while 53 per cent of the youths used mobile money for airtime purchase.

The survey results showed that 53 per cent of the youths in the six countries bought premium TV using mobile money.

“Mobile money was used least as a payment method for non-digital purchases, such as transportation (10 per cent), non- alcoholic beverages (12 per cent), clothing (13 per cent) and groceries (13 per cent),” it added.


In Nigeria, it was discovered that insurance premium topped payment made via debit or credit cards, followed by nicotine products, pay video streaming and betting.

GeoPoll said Nigerian youths were significantly more active with their debit and credit cards than any of the other countries studied due to Nigeria’s relatively slow uptake of mobile money services, which has encouraged the use of formal banking services such as credit cards.

“Debit and credit cards were only used for 10 per cent of payments overall, which demonstrates their low usage in Africa,” the report added.

In all the six countries examined, analysts at GeoPoll said pay video streaming payments were the most popular category for debit or credit card use, at a 17 per cent average. Insurance premiums followed with 15 per cent of these payments made on a debit or credit card.

Nicotine product purchases and gambling payments came in at third and fourth with 14 per cent and 12 per cent respectively.

It noted that debit and credit cards were least used for groceries at six per cent, transportation at seven per cent, clothing at seven per cent, and non-alcoholic beverages at eight per cent.

GeoPoll noted that cash was by far the most popular payment method in the study garnering 62 per cent of the share across payment types and countries.

“Cash was most popular for groceries (86 per cent on average used cash), transportation (86 per cent), non-alcoholic beverages (82 per cent), and beauty products (81 per cent). Cash was used least to pay for PayTV (21 per cent), Pay Video (23 per cent), gambling (32 per cent), and insurance premiums (38 per cent),” it added.

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