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Scaling Mobile Money

Retail payment systems require scale to get off the ground and struggle to grow incrementally, as they need to build trust, reap network effects and overcome chicken-and-egg problems of acquiring both customers and merchants. To overcome these barriers, they must (i) create enough urgency in customers’ minds to learn about, try, and use the service; (ii) invest heavily in above- and below-the-line marketing to establish top-of-mind awareness of (and trust in) the service among a large segment of the population; and (iii) incur considerable customer acquisition costs (beyond marketing and promotion) to ensure that their cash-in/out merchants are adequately incentivized to promote the service. Many deployments around the world have potential to scale, but are stuck in the ‘sub-scale trap’ due to under-resourcing. This paper explores scaling mobile money.

Ignacio Mas
Ignacio Mas is a Senior Fellow at CEME at the Fletcher School. He has been deputy director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has held senior telecoms jobs at Vodafone and Intel, and has been adjunct professor at the Business School at the University of Chicago. He holds a SB degree from MIT and a PhD from Harvard.

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