South Africa

AfricaCom 2022: Huawei customer Unitel on using mobile money to drive financial inclusion in Angola

Antonieta Gomes Director of Mobile Financial Business at Unitel Money AfricaCom 2022 scaled

In Africa, it has helped move millions of households in low and middle-income countries, from the informal cash economy, into a more inclusive digital economy. Huawei customer Unitel, revealed how it’s using mobile money to foster that shift in Angola.

Speaking at AfricaCom, the continent’s leading technology conference, Antonieta Gomes, Director of Mobile Financial Business at Unitel Money, explained how the operator’s mobile money strategy and vision have helped drive financial inclusion in the Southern African country.

Unitel Money allows people across Angola to easily send money and make payments

Launched in August 2021, Unitel Money allows people across Angola to easily send money and make payments with just the touch of a button.

The new service allows users to make cash deposits and cash withdrawals from an already established agent network, transfer funds from one wallet to another instantly, and make merchant and utility bill payments.

Previously, these activities would have involved cumbersome cash payments. Local authorities will also benefit greatly from increased transparency and accountability provided by digital payment collection.

In little more than 12 months, the service has built up a 1.2 million-strong customer base, with more than 1.4 million transactions processed in October 2022 alone. That represents a 529% month-on-month increase from September and underscores how rapidly mobile money has been adopted in Angola.

According to Gomes, Unitel is looking to build on that success by engaging with various service providers to layer more services on top of Unitel Money.

“Strong and strategic partnerships are an essential factor in the future and success of Unitel Money. Unitel Money welcomes partners across different business verticals to join the Unitel Money ecosystem and build more diverse services on top of Unitel money,” said Gomes.

“I’d also like to thank Huawei Technologies, one of Unitel’s key strategic partners in delivering a stable and robust platform that will support our business.”

Building an ICT ecosystem

Gomes further explained that mobile money is key to building a robust ICT ecosystem in Angola. Pointing to the example of Kenya, which was an African mobile money pioneer, she noted that such an ecosystem has the capacity to contribute significantly to the national GDP both directly and indirectly, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process.

In that regard, Unitel has already recruited nearly 5 000 agents countrywide. These agents provide financial services closer to the end user, as compared to the traditional bank branches which are thinly distributed.

This means that users can travel shorter distances to enjoy financial services, improving the overall customer experience. The agents also enjoy commissions on transactions, through a shared prosperity arrangement between them and Unitel, boosting the profitability of their businesses.

Larger businesses have benefited too. For instance, Unitel Money means that Angolans don’t have to spend as much time queuing to withdraw money from ATMs. They can instead use Unitel Money’s agent network for cash deposits and withdrawals, helping reduce pressure on the banks to always have enough cash available.

As more and more Angolans embrace mobile money, the same level of convenience will apply to businesses across the economy, further bolstering digital inclusion and the benefits it brings.