Mobile money subscriptions rebound after scrapping of Airtel transfer code

The number of subscribers on mobile money platforms has rebounded.

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The number of subscribers on mobile money platforms has rebounded, a new report by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) shows, citing the removal of a code that forced customers on Airtel Money to withdraw cash within seven days of receipt or see the amounts reverted to senders.

The latest sector statistics report published by the regulator shows that subscribers onboarded into the mobile money ecosystem during the three months to March this year totalled 700,000, bringing the number to 38.7 million up from the 38 million recorded as of the close of December.

The surge bucks a trend of slumps that commenced in March last year when the number stood at 38.4 million, before dropping to 38 million by June, which was followed by a mild increase to 38.1 million as of September of the same year.

“During the reference period, mobile money subscriptions grew to 38.7 million translating to a penetration rate of 75 percent. Although there was growth in subscriptions, the penetration rate dropped due to a review of the denominator on population following the release of the 2024 Economic Survey,” reads CA's latest report.

“The growth in mobile money subscribers is attributed to the removal of withdrawal codes for transactions sent from M-Pesa to Airtel Money, which means that funds can now be transferred directly into the Airtel Money account (wallet).”

According to the 2024 Economic Survey published by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the number of mobile money subscribers in the country dropped by 600,000 during the full year to last December.

The country’s second-largest telco eliminated the restrictive code in early February this year, allowing Airtel Money customers to receive money directly into their e-wallets from any network.

“This development effected on February 6, 2024, comes in response to the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) and industry players’ collaborative efforts to ensure seamless mobile money interoperability as outlined in the CBK National Payments Strategy 2022-2025,” said Airtel at the time.

With the changes, users registered on rival platforms can send as little as Sh1 up to the highs of Sh250,000 per transaction daily to Airtel Money accounts.

The National Payments Strategy by the CBK requires all mobile money providers to ensure a seamless customer journey across their different channels to allow on-network and off-network direct transactions.

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Note: The results are not exact but very close to the actual.