A survey by Cape Town-based research company ikapadata conducted in April with 1,008 participants in townships in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban shows that 25% of surveyed township residents use their cellphones for accessing their bank accounts or sending money to other cellphone users via mobile money services.
However, the survey revealed that only 9% of those with a bank account have accessed it via cellphone in the last 2 weeks, and only 8% of all respondents have ever sent money using one of the mobile money service providers.
The most active mobile banking users are among the better-off respondents (LSM 8–10, n=194), of which 43% claim to access their bank accounts via their cellphones or send money using one of the established mobile money service providers.
In comparison 23% of members of the LSM 6–7 bracket (n=563) and 16% of the LSM 4–5 bracket (n=174) say that they are using mobile banking and mobile money services.
The levels of awareness of the individual mobile money services differ significantly, ikapadata said:
- 58% of respondents have heard of FNB eWallet, which was launched in 2009 by FNB;
- 57% know of M-Pesa, an offshoot of the Kenyan success story locally managed by Vodacom in partnership with Nedbank;
- 38% are aware of MTN Mobile Money which has recently been purchased by Standard Bank; and
- 12% are familiar with WIZZIT which was commericially launched in 2005 as a division of the South African Bank of Athens and which ikapadata said has a partnership with Absa and the South African Post Office.
Ikapadata pointed out that only FNB eWallet and M-Pesa do not require the recipients of money transfers to be members of the service prior to the transaction.
The research firm further stated that subscription rates are generally low and mirror the variations in levels of awareness:
- 8% of respondents say that they have an account with FNB eWallet;
- 7% with M-Pesa;
- 2% with MTN Mobile Money; and
- 1% with WIZZIT.
Despite the low subscription rates to mobile money services, especially compared to other markets in Africa such as Kenya, ikapadata said that there are signs for a positive trend in the future as 25% of respondents who do not have a mobile money account yet (n=820) are planning to subscribe to one in the next 3 months.