East Africa: UN Agency Calls for Regional Mobile Money Laws

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EAC countries need to harmonize mobile money regulations to allow the expansion of such services in the region, a UN body has said.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said the EAC is a world leader in mobile money transactions hence the need to study how laws governing such services are evolving.

In a report titled Mobile Money for Business Development in the East Africa Community, UNCTAD notes: "The EAC is a world leader in offering mobile money services and hosts more than one quarter of all known such systems in Africa," says UNCTAD. "Africa has taken the lead in mobile money implementation, with about 60 mobile money services already in place, a quarter (16) of which are in the EAC. Three of the EAC platforms now have more than 1 million active subscribers. M-Pesa, operated by Safaricom of Kenya, is currently the most popular platform."

It is because of this rapid development in mobile money systems that UNCTAD feels a robust legal framework with a regional outlook should be put in place. "Steps are needed to address concerns related to consumer protection, registration and transaction limits, regulatory collaboration and interoperability, meaning interconnection between telecommunication networks," UNCTAD says.

"The report recognizes progress made by the EAC Task Force on Cyberlaws in preparing regional guidelines on electronic transactions, electronic signatures and authentication, data protection and privacy, consumer protection and computer crime. One option to increase regulatory collaboration around mobile money would be to undertake similar work to promote harmonization in the area of mobile money services, the report says."