Nearly two years after the launch of Digicel’s mobile money service in Haiti, TchoTcho Mobile continues to develop innovative services, expand its network of agents across the country and provide a revolutionary means to distribute cash in the most remote areas of the country.

As the Governor of the Central Bank of Haiti, Banque de la République d’Haiti (BRH), Charles Castel pointed out in his address at a conference for financial inclusion held in April this year, there are a total of 200 bank branches of which 65% are in the Port-au-Prince area. “Today, 48% of Haiti’s population lives in the rural areas and is not adequately served. These numbers plainly show a significant gap, and also an opportunity, for the penetration of basic banking services.

With daily financial operations practically nonexistent in some parts of the country previously, today the electronic wallet is making a significant impact with basic financial transactions such as deposits, withdrawals, and money transfers now accessible to all.

With any new technology, especially in a developing country, education and effective communications are the key to ensuring user adoption. While there are very few markets in which mobile money was an instant success, M-Pesa in Kenya being an exception, the majority of mobile money services have achieved success within three to five years after launch. The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, (CGAP), an independent policy and research centre committed to developing financial access to the world’s poor, concluded in a recent study that, “mobile money is expected to be cash flow positive within three years.”

Nonetheless, mobile money in Haiti, especially Digicel’s TchoTcho Mobile service, is the solution of choice for a number of Haitian social welfare programmes, injecting much-needed cash flow to underserved, remote communities that have virtually no access to the most basic banking services. By creating an ecosystem of merchants and agents, TchoTcho Mobile is making up for the lack of infrastructure within the banking system.

{IMAGE VIA – thestate.com} Digicel’s TchoTcho Mobile agents are recognised as trusted and established merchants in the community – whom customers feel safe depositing their money with, confident in the knowledge that the funds will be available upon demand. In addition, some merchants are offered the opportunity to sell LISA lottery – also allowing customers to play using their mobile phone – for a 10% commission on their sales. The benefits to these merchants extend beyond the fees they earn – with many witnessing an increase in foot traffic to their businesses, making them a centre point for commercial activities.

Indeed, thanks to the programmes like the Haitian Mobile Money Initiative (HMMI), from a partnership between the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and USAID | HIFIVE, TchoTcho Mobile has rapidly grown from a pilot service to a convenient and reliable financial solution available nationwide. This initiative has shortened the development life cycle of mobile money, which was previously a challenge in all countries where providers consider offering mobile money services.

Altenor James, a TchoTcho Mobile customer said; “TchoTcho Mobile has simplified my life, and I would encourage others to register because it is available everywhere and anytime.”

With services such as loan repayments for micro finance institutions, TchoTcho Mobile will serve not only as a financial solution tool but as a means for empowerment to the people of Haiti.

Digicel’s General Manager for TchoTcho Mobile, David Sharpe, said: “At Digicel, we believe that the electronic payment is a convenient and safe method to conduct daily financial transactions- and that this service will greatly contribute to the economic and social development of Haiti.”

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