Regulation is a deciding factor on whether mobile money platforms succeed or fail, according to Richard Ketley, director and owner at consulting firm Genesis Analytics.

Ketley was the moderator of a panel discussion at the 2014 Mobile Money and Digital Payments Africa conference, which kicked off in Johannesburg, South Africa, today.

“Regulation is too tight in the mobile money market, a lighter touch could help in growing the market,” he said.

Commenting on current regulatory climate, Selorm Adadevoh, head of mobile financial services at Tigo Ghana and a member of the panel, said: “The further west you move from the east, the stricter the regulators become,”

He said regulation in Ghana has assisted operators.

“Being able to go to regulators and plead a case across mobile operators has been really helpful for mobile money in Ghana,” he said.

The panel discussed the role of regulation in mobile money operability, highlighting the importance of the concept.

“I definitely believe interoperability provides a great market opportunity,” Adadevoh said.

However, the panelists said regulation should not dictate that interoperability be implemented from the birth of a mobile money platform.

HumanIPO reported last year Rajiv Bhatia, head of Ericsson’s m-commerce division, called for clearer regulation around mobile money in order to give the platform a boost on the continent.

He said uncertainty in regulatory guidelines for mobile money, coupled with limited cooperation among m-commerce providers, is hampering the industry from unlocking its full potential.

The World Bank last year called for stricter regulation around mobile money, making particular reference to Kenya.

The bank said Kenya’s initial success with mobile money was due to the lack of regulation, however regulation is needed as the major platforms manage the limited capital of the poor.