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Africa’s Missed Opportunity

After more than a decade since its emergence, mobile money has evolved as the formal financial service of choice for many underserved groups in developing countries. The rapid adoption and widespread use in these areas aren’t due to its convenience (as it is in many developed markets) but on its necessity, since it bridges gaps for unbanked people that the existing banking sector cannot. As a result, emerging markets have become the epicentre of mobile money activity, with sub-Saharan Africa experiencing the most growth. Transaction volume and value in the region have seen double-digit growth during the last decade, and mobile money accounts are expected to reach 500 million at the end of 2020. A recent report from GSMA notes: “State authorities are unable to fully understand the nuances of emerging sectors, such as mobile-money services or even the wider digital economy.” The result has been “badly designed taxes which, although they may seem attractive at first sight, fail to consider the impact on the broader economy and society.”