Mobile phone customer deposits hit Sh226 bn

Safaricom’s M-Pesa accounts for the bulk of the Sh226 billion customer deposits. Photo/FILE
Safaricom’s M-Pesa accounts for the bulk of the Sh226 billion customer deposits. Photo/FILE  NATION MEDIA GROUP

Cash deposits handled by mobile phone companies in three months between October and December last year totalled Sh226 billion, an amount equivalent to total clients' money held by KCB at the close of 2012.

Customer deposits into the country’s four mobile phone firms Safaricom, Airtel, Yu and Orange increased 10 per cent between October and December, a report released Thursday by the Communications Commission of Kenya showed.

The amount surpassed the cash held by Kenya’s biggest commercial bank as measured by clients’ money, KCB, whose total deposit is about Sh223 billion for its local operations.

“The mobile money transfer service continued to record tremendous growth during the period. The number of mobile money transfer subscribers grew by 9.4 per cent to 21.1 million up from 19.3 million recorded in the previous period,” said CCK in the report.

Though the CCK report did not break down the amount held by each telecommunications firm, Safaricom’s M-Pesa is by far the biggest accounting for the bulk of the deposits.

Central Bank data showed that the deposits held in Kenyan banks fell from Sh1.76 trillion in December to Sh1.75 trillion in January.

There were 30.4 million pre-paid subscribers up from 30.1 million recorded in the previous quarter, representing a 1.0 per cent growth. Post-paid subscribers grew by 1.6 per cent during the period to 302,403.

The number of active agents involved in mobile money transfers rose to 62,300 up from 54,409 recorded during the previous quarter, representing an increase of 14.5 per cent.

“This growth signifies increased accessibility of mobile money transfer service as well as more employment opportunities for the youth,” says CCK.

However, CCK considers that the market is tending towards saturation and maturity in terms of the number of subscribers, as shown by the slowed growth.

Mobile penetration increased to 78.0 per 100 inhabitants up from 77.2 recorded during the previous quarter. This represented a quarterly increase of 0.8 percentage points, compared to the same period of the previous year that recorded an increase of 6.7 per cent.

While the CCK report does not capture total mobile cash transfers, the CBK annual report showed mobile phone money transfer service usage continued to increase among the Kenyan public as indicated by the growth in the number of transactions by 39.51 per cent from 364.06 million transactions in the year to June 30, 2011 to 507.90 million transactions in the year to June 30, 2012.

The value of cash transferred through mobile money transfer services increased by 50.29 per cent from Sh919.22 billion for the year to June 30, 2011 to Sh1.38 trillion for the year ending June 30, 2012.