Coronavirus seen as trigger for mobile money growth in West Africa

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Katy NÕJie, 20, who owns a clothing retail business, sends a transfer via Orange money on August 22, 2017, in C™te dÕIvoire. Most women in C™te dÕIvoire use Orange Money to transfer money to friends and family, but some also use it to buy and sell products for their businesses. In 2017 Orange C™te dÕIvoire committed to reduce the gender gap in their mobile money customer base by 2020. Photo: Nick Loomis / Arete / GSMA

Penda Kande usually pays for taxis in cash, but since coronavirus hit Senegal, the 30-year-old nurse has switched to mobile money to avoid contamination.

“With the virus it’s better to use Orange Money,” said Kande, referring to the West African country’s most popular mobile money service, offered by French telecoms group Orange .

She was one of several clients making withdrawals or deposits with mobile money agents on a street corner in Senegal’s capital Dakar last week, where one Orange Money agent said business had nearly doubled since coronavirus hit.

Mobile money providers across Africa have reduced or waived transaction fees and governments are encouraging digital payments to reduce person-to-person contact and potentially slow the spread of the virus.

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