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Mobile money comes to Nigeria

THE SHARED cars that shuttle between Abuja and Kaduna, two Nigerian cities, carry more than passengers. For a fee they will also carry cash, says Odedele Olusanmi, a driver. On a typical journey he takes five packages, each holding around 20,000 naira ($55). Only two-fifths of Nigerians have bank accounts, which is why some send money this way. Yet an alternative could already be in their pockets.In the past decade a mobile-money revolution has swept through much of Africa, enabling the unbanked to make transfers, pay bills and save. Half of the world’s 866m mobile-money accounts are in Africa, not counting services which need users to belong to a bank. But not many are in Nigeria, its largest economy and most populous country, with 200m people, where mobile money was used for transactions worth just 1.4% of GDP last year (compared with 44% in Kenya). Four-fifths of Nigerians have never heard of it.
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