MEST Talks: An Intro to Mobile Money in Ghana

Kelechi Udoagwu, Wednesday September 9th 2015

MINC talks

Hosted at the Meltwater Incubator, MEST Talks brings together business professionals, skilled software and technology personnel, and budding entrepreneurs to share lessons learned from their experiences, new innovation trends, and actionable advice to tackle the rough terrain of the business world.

This month's Talk was themed “An Intro to Mobile Money in Ghana For Business Owners”. The panelists discussed how tech startups and business owners can use mobile money in their everyday operations, the benefits of mobile money over other payment options and exciting mobile money innovations and announcements we can expect in the near future.

On the panel were Edmund Barwuah, Head of Corporate-Mobile Commerce at Airtel Ghana; Michael Acolatse, Tigo Cash Product Manager at Tigo Ghana; and Carl Ashie, Head of the Mobile Financial Service Unit for Vodafone Cash Ghana.

Below are some notes from the event. (Please note: the following statements are paraphrased transcriptions from the presentations and panel discussion.)

The Panelists

Michael Acolatse is the Tigo Cash Product Manager. He has 4 years of experience in Mobile Financial Services, with key expertise in Channel Management, Customer Acquisition and Product Development and Management. Michael is a financial inclusion advocate and loves to develop alternative financial solutions for the unbanked.

Edmund Barwuah is the Head of Corporate Mobile-Commerce at Airtel Ghana. He has been with Airtel since 2010, working as the Zonal Business Manager, Territory Sales Supervisor, and Territory Sales Executive.

Carl Ashie heads the mobile financial service unit of Vodafone Ghana. He handles the major task of delivering Vodafone’s award winning M-Pesa to a market saturated with various payment systems. He has worked in the telecom industry for the past 8 years managing the deployment of various Value Added Services such as voice SMS and content SMS services.

1) What are the benefits of mobile money over other payment options?


Mobile money is easier to use than the other traditional methods of financial services. It is also convenient because it is instant. Mobile money travels with the speed of an SMS, and you are able to send money to anybody on any network at any time, whether they have a mobile wallet or not, and regardless of what day of the week it is.

It's also safe with a two-factor authentication system which requires your phone number and a secret pin. Watch Micheal's full presentation here.



Mobile Money encourages savings by helping merchants and business owners collect payments from customers before starting on new projects. It saves them the cost of completing a project and not being paid by the customer or getting a refund.

Mobile Money also helps personal security. The risk of travelling far distances to collect money, or carrying huge sums of money around is reduced. Mobile Money is electronic, making it accessible when you need it, without carrying it around.

It also helps people track all their transactions easily, as every transaction paid or received is in real-time. So people can easily monitor their businesses remotely.


Mobile Money is economical as it saves people from transporting themselves from one place to the other to pay or receive money.

2) How can tech startups and business owners use mobile money in their everyday operations?


Mobile money makes it easier for startups and businesses to handle cash efficiently. Payments like utility bills, overheads, interests, and even bulk expenses like salaries can be paid using mobile money. The user is simply required to upload the details of all the staff and is able to disburse cash to over a hundred people are the same time.

Little things like buying airtime, data and shopping online are covered by Mobile Money. Mobile Money is integrated with partner banks to allow for bank to wallet transfers and improve bank services.


With mobile money, people can conveniently pay for recurring utilities like DStv, GOtv, water bills etc. For emphasis on safety and ease for Business owners, Airtel Money provides a sticker which is stuck to your phone and allows you do NFC payments. It doesn't matter if your phone is NFC enabled or not. Even with the sticker, each user still has a secret pin which is needed to make transactions and their phone numbers, making it a three-way authentication method.

Mobile Money can also be used to check children's exam results, which need a scratch card, conveniently.You simply log on to the WAEC portal, fill in your exam details, and are able to pay from your mobile wallet and get the pin to check the results.

Airtel Mobile Money also enables users to open bank accounts remotely. Once you dial a shortcode, a bank account is created for you and you can move your money from your mobile wallet into your new bank account and begin to earn interest as high as 12%.Watch Edmund's full presentation here.


3) What are some exciting mobile money innovations and announcements we can expect in the near future?

In a bid to encourage more innovation in their space, the telcos run hackathons, digital fairs and competitions to encourage software and technology enthusiasts to share and build new ideas with them. Use of their APIs are allowed after a due diligence check on your idea, capabilities and execution.

Tigo has some interesting announcements to share in the next few weeks.

4) Myth-busting


  • Vodafone Ghana is M-pesa from Kenya rebranded for Ghanaians. Vodafone started operations on this service barely two months ago.

  • Telcos offering mobile money services are not in competition with the banks, but rather their goals are aligned. As it's all about getting the percentage of the unbanked public into the banking sector.

  • Telcos offering mobile money are focused on educating the public to the benefits of the using this service to make their business operations easier.

  • The long term vision of all mobile money operators is to create a cashless economy, and improve the economy by encouraging users to save and invest.

Watch Carl's complete presentation here.