Over the years, Global Voice Group (GVG) has been working with African governments and regulators in supporting the implementation of different data solutions.
GVG’s solutions span telecommunications, digital payments, and digital identity among others. In 2011, GVG implemented the International Gateway Traffic Verification System (IGTVS) to measure traffic and provide accurate billing, as well as a better quality of service assessment, market surveillance, interconnection, dispute resolution, and fraud management.
In terms of digital payment, GVG deployed the TransFin solution, which enables payment systems to save time and money with respect to input, authentication, and authorization processes, while enabling integration with multiple other systems.
This work with governments and regulators across the continent gives GVG great insight into the potential Africa would have if technological solutions were successfully implemented, and this recently allowed GVG to win the Data Management Partner for Regulatory Compliance Category at the Central Banking’s FinTech & RegTech Global Awards.
We had a chat with James Claude, CEO at GVG, touching on the work GVG is doing with regulators on the continent and some of their successes in the recent past.
How can data solutions impact the African economy?
Data is becoming an important asset for companies, for countries, and even for all the participants, which are the citizens of those countries generating all of these data.
Thus, data can be at the heart of decision-making. Today, with the proliferation of technology, data is constantly being collected by service providers.
It is important for regulatory bodies to have access to those data ̶ while protecting user privacy ̶ to improve decision-making.
Data can also help to promote financial inclusion because they help better understand how the digital economy is evolving and what is lacking from different segments of the economy.
At GVG, we work very closely with regulators to provide solutions that enable them to efficiently oversee their sector. We mine the data we collect, so they can see the impact of their different policies and play a dynamic role in terms of regulation.
IGTVS has been deployed in some countries. Could you tell us about its success, especially in Rwanda?
IGTVS has been deployed in more than 12 countries in Africa. GVG has been working together with the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) and, in 2011, implemented the IGTVS, a comprehensive data solution that independently audits and monitors the networks in Rwanda to measure traffic and enable accurate billing, a better quality of service assessment, market surveillance, interconnection, dispute resolution, and fraud management.
Previously, the IGTVS was mainly focused on monitoring international voice traffic. But over time, we expanded its functionalities to provide visibility on the mobile money ecosystem, which allows Central Banks to see what is happening in this ecosystem.
The implementation of the IGTVS in Rwanda formed part of the country’s digital transformation strategy, in the context of which Rwanda unveiled its “Vision 2020” program.
The “Vision 2020” program was geared toward making the country a leader in data transformation, and we are very proud to have been associated with this success. Indeed, our solution has been one of the most advanced in the region as regards the regulatory oversight of the telecom sector,
The mobile money ecosystem is growing very fast in Rwanda. Here are a few numbers: We are helping regulators to fight effectively against fraud and have enabled them to detect and cut more than 30,000 fraudulent lines in 2019 alone. Today, we have the capability to monitor billions of transactions on a monthly basis. This gives you an idea of the contribution we have made to building RURA’s capability, while working together as partners and by providing training and capability-building.
GVG was nominated for the Central Banking’s FinTech & RegTech Global Awards, for its Mobile Money Monitoring solution. What is the solution about?
Mobile Money Monitoring (M3) is an intelligent platform that uses machine learning and predictive analysis to oversee the whole mobile money ecosystem in different countries.
This platform has been installed in more than five countries, including Tanzania, Uganda, and Ghana. It seamlessly connects to the networks of the mobile money providers to perform critical actions.
Based on machine learning and big data analytics, we can potentially collect and identify suspicious transactions related to money laundering or illicit activity.
This tool empowers the authorities to oversee this aspect of the digital economy, which is crucial because most of the informal economy uses mobile money. At the same time, it brings transparency to secure these important assets for all the stakeholders.
Has Africa leveraged technology to its maximum to solve the financial inclusion challenge?
There’s still a long road ahead of us, but I believe we are going in the right direction. Data from the GSMA indicates that by the end of 2020, 495 million people had subscribed to mobile services in Sub-Saharan Africa, which represents 46% of the region’s population.
That represents an increase of 20 million compared to 2019, and more than 40% of the region’s population is under the age of 15, which means that we have young consumers using mobile phones for the first time.
Mobile services are spreading all over the continent and solutions such as M3 are significantly helping to bridge the gap and to bring more people into the financial ecosystem. Indeed, in the past, we used to define financial inclusion in terms of the number of people who had or didn’t have a bank account.
But I think this definition is completely outdated today. In many countries where people are using mobile money, many services are being added to mobile money, such as savings and loans, even for the unbanked. By simply using a mobile phone, people are getting access to credit and financial services. This, ultimately, is the exact definition of financial inclusion.
I think that in Africa, despite the progress that was accomplished, there is still a need to invest more in infrastructure and to harmonize regulations between countries, to foster the development of this mobile penetration. The point of this is to stimulate the mobile providers’ interest in the ecosystem so that they will continue investing and developing other services related to mobile money, to give people access to financial services.
It is clear that technology has been playing a significant role, and I believe it will continue to play that role, by bridging the financial inclusion gap in Africa.
We have solutions that help revenue authorities have a better understanding of what is happening within the telecom space.
I think we will continue to work in that sense, to identify the issues that regulatory bodies and organizations face.
This will allow us to develop cutting-edge platforms and technical solutions that can help these organizations improve their control.
Could you tell us about the TransFin solution?
Following the implementation of mobile money, we noticed an increasing problem in many countries, whereby many payment systems operate in silos. However, Rwanda recently launched interoperability between Airtel money and MTN money, which was not possible before.
TransFin is a solution that we launched in 2021 to help central banks especially bring interoperability within the payment ecosystem, because that also can contribute to financial inclusion. If I live in a remote village, having access to airtel money does not solve the isolation issue, since I cannot transfer to different platforms.
With interoperability, I can rely on Airtel ONLY to carry out all my transactions. For example, TransFin facilitates interoperability and is also a full payment system that allows governments to interact with their citizens in terms of payment. We have a payroll system for civil servants that we can implement. It includes a module that can help improve governments’ efficiency in terms of payroll management.
TransFin can also manage digital identity, which is another key element of the development of the digital economy.
At GVG, we are committed to helping governments to effectively carry out their sector oversight and regulation mandate. We exclusively work with regulatory bodies, because we believe they have an essential role to play in these ecosystems, by applying the right regulation, the right framework and by allowing the development of the digital economy, which can foster financial inclusion while improving the lives of people in general. We are happy that we are being recognized for our own role in this ecosystem.
And as I said earlier, our M3 solution has really helped many governments to have control over the mobile money ecosystem. However, we have many other solutions that can support telecom regulators.
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