DEFINITION OF TERMS
Mobile Banking is a service provided by a bank or other financial institution that allows its customers to conduct financial transactions remotely using a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet.
Electronic Transaction Levy or “E-Levy” is a tax applied on transactions made on electronic or digital platforms.
ADVANTAGES OF MOBILE BANKING
Mobile banking offers numerous benefits such as ease of transaction, convenience, time-saving, managing your finances, and budgeting. Some advantages of Mobile Banking in remote areas include:
Financial Inclusion — mobile banking offers convenient and easy banking services to people in remote areas. Thus, it allows banking on the go and offers all benefits of a banking system to rural areas without the presence of a financial institution.
Accessing the bank 24/7 — Mobile banking provides ubiquitous banking services without the need to visit the bank to have access to services. This offers time to benefit and ease of transacting at a distance.
Cost-benefit — Mobile banking saves the banks the cost of building physical infrastructures (branches) and maintaining branches and staff. Also, reduced costs on the customer side since the burden of visiting the bank for services is eliminated.
Improving resilience in the face of poverty — Mobile money acts as both a savings vehicle and a means of transferring funds during times of economic or environmental shocks.
Strengthening the formal economy — For many micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), opening a mobile money account can facilitate access to formal financial services. Mobile money is well placed to address the issue of informality that blights many developing economies and hampers domestic resource mobilization efforts. Mobile Money enables ease of transacting, thus increasing business profits for MSMEs.
Facilitating economic growth — Mobile money has been shown to contribute to economic growth by increasing both productivity and per capita incomes
DISADVANTAGES OF E-LEVY ON MOBILE BANKING
The design of mobile money taxation policy appears to be the antithesis of a well-designed tax system. The disadvantages include:
Inequity — Mobile money taxes as currently structured to create inequity in the tax system. As the tax is mostly borne by the poor and users of the services are subject to additional taxation (unlike bank or cash transactions), the principles of both horizontal and vertical equity in the tax system are contravened.
Uncertainty -. Uncertainty and lack of transparency over taxation systems can have a direct impact on the operations of the tax authority, increasing enforcement costs, as well as discouraging investment.
Inconvenience — The administration of mobile money transaction taxes creates an inconvenience for MMPs who must calculate and collect the tax on the revenue authority’s behalf. There is an additional inconvenience for users of the service for whom remote digital transactions become more expensive or out of reach if they revert back to cash.
Inefficiency — Badly designed mobile money taxes have been shown to have a distortionary impact on demand for mobile money services. This in turn has had negative impacts on overall tax takes, as well as impacting the attainment of national economic and development goals.
EFFECT OF MOBILE BANKING — CASE STUDIES
The decision to impose taxes on mobile bank transactions will trigger so many problems.
Ghana — According to The Fourth Estate Ghana; Although the government projects a 24% decline in transactions when the levy is finally implemented, preliminary findings published by the bank of Ghana indicate the value of mobile money transactions had dropped by 3.2 billion in December 2021, less than 2 months after the proposal to introduce E-levy.
Uganda — An e-levy of 1% introduced in 2018 has led to an overall drop in the person-to-person transaction by more than 50%, and a 24% drop in industry transactions within the same year the tax was introduced according to a report by Global system for mobile communication (GSMA).
Congo — An e-levy of 1% was introduced in 2019. The government had to reverse the tax on cash outs only due to negative results of the levy on Mobile money users such as a decline in mobile money agents (unemployment) and high-value withdrawals by people.
Other countries include Benin (5%) and Cameroun (0.2%). In all these countries, the e-levy has imposed a negative effect on the economy and people. If we want to ensure the financial inclusion of people in rural areas, we need to ensure that we encourage mobile banking by withdrawing the e-levy tax.
Purohit, S., & Arora, R. (2021). The benefits and challenges of mobile banking at the Bottom of the pyramid. Journal of Contemporary Issues in Business and Government Vol, 27(1).
Charles G. Kpan, Jr. is an Information Technologist with over 5 years of experience in the provision of Information Technology Services and an emphasis on Web Development and Visual Branding. He’s the managing Director of CYGEC IT SOLUTIONS INC. and holds a bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology from Blue Crest University, Liberia.