When Your Phone Is Your Wallet

Ghana’s largest telecom is taking banking to the streets with its mobile money service

Piggy-backing on the success of Safaricom’s M‑Pesa mobile payment technology in Kenya, Tigo Ghana launched its own mobile money service in 2010. By 2012, Tigo Cash Ghana had over 1 million registered subscribers, but only a fraction of these were actively using the service to send, receive, and save money. 

With the support of Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), IDEO​.org helped Tigo Ghana step into the shoes of its low-income customers. Over the span of four months, we set out to understand what mattered most to consumers in Accra and Kumasi when it comes to making and receiving payments. 

We learned that the original value proposition of Tigo’s mobile money offer—“Speed, Access and Convenience,”—wasn’t working. Turns out, people already had a method of payment that was speedy, accessible, and convenient: cash. Cash transfers, which were often facilitated by an existing local transportation network, were fast enough,” as far as consumers were concerned. Mobile money, on the other hand, seemed confusing and a hassle.

Tigo took Susu Wallet to market and now the offering serves over 70,000 customers.

So the question became, how might we make the mobile money experience as seamless as cash, while conveying the added benefits of safety and speed. The goal wasn’t to fundamentally alter Tigo’s product, but to activate registered users who weren’t using the service. 

With this in mind, we quickly built and tested a variety of prototypes to improve the customer experience, test new forms of customer support, and provide more engaging storytelling and education to prospective users. Tigo cash rapidly took these prototypes to market. 

The most promising product is actually a build on susus, a common informal savings practice among Ghanaians. Susu Wallet is a more official and customer-centric version of what many Ghanaians already know. Tigo took it to market and already has over 70,000 customers.

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