Mobile Money merchants in trouble

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By Cecil MENSAH

Mobile Money Merchant (MMM) operators across the country have come under series of attacks from armed robbers who raid their mobilizations and capitals.

The merchants disburse large sums of money, sometimes up to five thousand Cedis as is allowed by the Bank of Ghana’s directives governing the mobile money sector.

Business Day can say, however, that the money merchants have come under threat and their attackers are making it difficult for them to operate during the night.

In particular, robberies are becoming rampant in quiet vicinities such as residential areas in regional capitals.

Recently when stakeholders gathered at the Mobile Money Month (MoMo) meetings organized by MTN, many complaints were lodged with telecom operator as victims sought assistance.

While some money merchants have seen their businesses fold up, others have been left heavily indebted to various lenders.

An MTN Area Code manager in the Greater Accra Region, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed to Business Day that his outfit had instances of clients complaining about robbery attacks on their operations.

He said he had just visited a client at Dansoman in the Carl Reindorf Park area who had quit operating because of robbery attacks on her operations.

He narrated how he has been having such reports on monthly basis about clients quitting because of robbery attacks on their operations.

He said the incidence of robbery attacks on merchants has become a phenomenon that is gradually eating up the gains achieved with the introduction of the mobile money platforms by telecommunication companies.

A merchant at Abeka Lapaz in the Accra metropolis, Joseph Ackaah, told Business Day that he brings his operations to a close at a little past seven o’clock in the evening everyday even if there are customers waiting to do business.

“My brother, it is for my safety,” he insisted. “These people think that because you are a merchant and have been effecting payments you carry loads of money around.

“So I have to leave at the time people are around to ensure my safety  in such a volatile area like Lapaz where a group of young men can team up  to rob you of all your earnings,” he said.

It is estimated that about 12,000 young people are employed by the various mobile money platforms across the country and are making over GHC3 million transactions every day.

Elli Hini, Head of MTN Mobile Money Financial Service, says his company has been encouraging operators to operate in certain designed confinement so that they do not expose their operations.

He said these are individuals doing their own business and MTN as a service provider cannot overly control what they do.

He urged them to work within standard working time to avoid them coming into contact with some of these unscrupulous individuals.

“It is in view of this we have been urging them to always load their moneys on their wallet so that they become cashless after work,” he said. 

Police action

The Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Police Service, David Eklu, in an interview with Business Day said the matter has not come to the attention of the Police administration.

He said if the people affected are in groups what can be done is for them to write to the Police administration for a stakeholder forum to be organized to fashion out measures to assist them in their operations.

According to him, it becomes very difficult for the Police administration to assist them if they are individuals but if they in groups some measures can be taken to deal with their issues of insecurity.

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