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Antonieta Gomes

ANGOLA - Finance

Antonieta Gomes

Mobile Financial Services Business Director, UNITEL Money

Bio

Antonieta Gomes, Mobile Financial Services Business Director, has more than 20 years of experience in the telecommunications sector in Portugal and Angola and a master’s in marketing management. She was the project manager of UNITEL Money’s launch after several years following the mobile money industry in African countries and has several years of experience in the development of the UNITEL’s agent network in Angola.

"Africa gave birth to mobile money services mainly because of its large unbanked population, where its largest portion has mobile phones but no bank accounts."
UNITEL Money is contributing to the broader digitalization of the Angolan economy by enabling a wide range of financial transactions on mobile phones.
UNITEL Money is the payment service brought by UNITEL enabling digital and immediate money transfer and payments. How did the idea come about?

Africa birthed mobile money services mainly because of its large unbanked population, where its largest portion has mobile phones but no bank accounts. In Angola, around 60% of the population is unbanked, according to the Central Bank. With the purpose to be part of the financial inclusion, in 2020, UNITEL, the biggest telecommunication company in Angola, collaborated in a governmental program to provide subsidies to the less privileged population through mobile phones KWENDA. The start of UNITEL Money was in fact a G2P program, focused on sending money through mobile phones. UNITEL created a mobile payment services company called UNITEL Money. The idea was to, simply, reach the unbanked. Mobile money allows people with any feature phone to access money, either by going to an agent or shop to withdraw and deposit it.

UNITEL Money solves an existing lack of services then. What are the current digital necessities of the Angolan population?

Besides having a phone, there is still the literacy gap. The main challenge is education and financial inclusion. We want to include the entire population of Angola in financial services, because the economy of the country and of the average family stands to improve through the provision of micro-loans, micro-services, and so forth; however, this needs to start with education on the security and nature of mobile financial services.

How is UNITEL Money ensuring the integrity and quality of its services?

We have a dedicated team for compliance and fraud issues to ensure the security of our systems. Most issues regarding security are related to the aforementioned education component, because most frauds are related to social engineering, by giving access to someone who should not have it; through pin or other data. The main concern in terms of security is to educate people to never be too trustful. Educating people on how to use financial and digital services is crucial. As consumers, it is imperative to be vigilant by not accepting unknown calls or clicking on unsafe links. We communicate this through text messages, social media, and our other communication channels, as well as in person.

Who have been UNITEL Money’s partners in developing this technology?

Our main partner is Huawei. They are the vendors for the platform, and have enormous experience in other geographies regarding such services. It is a financial service, but it is also a telco land service. It is crucial to have partners that know about such services because it is rather different from other fintechs available on the market. Huawei has been a partner since the inception of UNITEL Money, along with other partners keen to add value and be part of the ecosystem, such as television and internet suppliers, allowing a user to top-up and pay for internet or tv subscriptions. We are in talks with other financial institutions including insurance, micro-credits, and micro-loans; these are the road maps for services of this nature. If we truly want to achieve financial inclusion, we need to start by developing those financial institutions. This is the reason such solutions began in the first place. It is easier to open a UNITEL Money account than to open a bank account. If someone lacks a bank account, they also lack access to credit, loans, and savings. That is why UNITEL Money needs to provide these services in collaboration with partners such as insurance companies. People in rural areas often do not have documentation or the minimum sum required to open a bank account. However, this inclusion has the potential to transform people’s lives. Solutions of this nature can provide up to AOA1,000 in loans, which might not be much in the grand scheme of things, but goes a long way for some individuals.

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