2 December 2019 | 2 minutes
Having access to financial services is about more than having a place to store hard-earned money.
It is about planning for the unexpected, the inevitable and the future. Since Mobile Money arrived on the continent, people in Africa now have access to additional financial services including insurance. As is the case with most digital services, insurance in Africa has taken a mobile route.
Insurance companies are very aware that technology should be part of the foundation of their business models. Mobile insurance has been established as the most efficient way to reach the African market. PriceWaterhouseCoopers compiled a report entitled Ready and Willing: African Insurance Industry Poised for Growth which highlights technology as a key trend that impacts insurance. The report notes that mobile phones and Mobile Money offer a significant opportunity for the insurance market in African countries.
Traditional insurance companies are therefore partnering with technology companies and innovators to ensure the right policies and products reach Mobile Money users. MTN Mobile Money users in Ghana and Uganda, for example, are able to take out insurance policies with a company called aYo; the mobile microinsurance service provider is a joint venture between MMI Holdings and MTN. The financial products are underwritten by Metropolitan Life Insurance.
Since aYo launched, more than 5.3 million policies have been issued to MTN Mobile Money users.
Now that insurance services are more easily available, people in Africa are ready and willing to take out a policy. The PwC report describes insurance penetration in Africa as among the lowest in the world, but now that insurance is mobile, this reality is set to change.
aYo offers MTN Mobile Money users and subscribers hospital cover and life insurance. Users dial a USSD code in order to begin the registration process, and premiums are
deducted through airtime or mobile money. Cover can be increased at any time and bonus cover can be earned by getting friends and family members to sign up. Policyholders are also prompted to add the details of caretakers – the person who will handle financial affairs and other details in the event of death or hospitalization. Beneficiaries can be added via USSD as well, so the insurers can pay funds out correctly.
An article in The Africa Report describes Ghana as among the fastest-growing Mobile Money markets in sub-Saharan Africa, and the country for other territories like Nigeria to look to when it comes to insurance penetration. Regulators and Ghanaian government have encouraged an increase in mobile insurance products for citizens over the years, and the country’s central bank reworked the regulatory framework for mobile money to allow operators to run services through existing subsidiaries. Ghana is providing an example for the rest of Africa which showcases how well financial services and mobile technology can work together.
As is the case with most traditional industries, insurance is not immune to disruption. By partnering with innovators and applying a mobile-first approach, insurance companies can successfully penetrate the African market. The population of Africa is, therefore, more likely to take advantage of financial services and plan for a bright future.