Mobile money agents handled a third of Kenya's GDP in six months

Cash handled by mobile money agents crossed the Sh700 billion mark for the first time in July. FILE PHOTO | NMG

One in every three shillings spent by consumers, businesses, and the government in Kenya in the first six months of the year moved through mobile money, cementing the country’s position as a global leader in the mobile money revolution.

The latest data published by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) shows that the cash handled by mobile money agents in the first half of the year increased by 17.5 percent to Sh3.8 trillion. The data, which tracks the monthly performance of mobile money, shows growth from Sh3.26 trillion over the same period last year.

The cash, which is mainly handled by Safaricom’s M-Pesa agents, represents 31 percent of the country’s 2021 gross domestic product (GDP) that was recorded at Sh12 trillion.

The number of mobile wallets crossed the 70 million mark in May and grew further to 70.3 million at the end of the first half of the year against an adult population of 25 million, indicating people have more than two subscriptions.

The deepening of mobile money in the country is behind the push for full interoperability that was completed in July, as all the players demanded a share of the party.

The Kenyan economy is largely made up of the informal sector, and the adoption of other forms of sending money or settling payments has grown faster, giving commercial banks a run for their money.

According to the World Bank, 72 percent of Kenya’s population dwell in the rural set-up and are net recipients of money transfers, resulting in increased adoption of mobile agents due to their convenience and affordability.

The number of mobile agents in June stood at 304,693 and has been growing, indicating the importance of the service in the country’s economy in creating employment.

Data from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) shows that the number of M-Pesa agents by the end of March stood at 262,004, representing 89 percent of the number of agents then which was recorded at 293,589. Airtel Money had 23,236 agents (eight percent) and T-Kash 8,349 (three percent).

According to the Fintech Survey 2021, mobile money has played a big part in financial inclusion in the country, which stands at 84 percent, the highest on the continent.

Safaricom, the country’s largest telco generated Sh107.7 billion from M-Pesa in its full-year results. The service accounted for 36 percent of the telco’s total revenue (Sh298 billion), beating voice revenue which was Sh83 billion.

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