Number of mobile money agents declines for first time since June 2020


An attendant makes an M-Pesa transaction for a customer. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG

The number of active mobile money agents fell by 10,726 in October, a 3.5 percent drop and the first decline since June 2020.

Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) data shows that there were 295,105 mobile money agents in October, down from 305,831 in September.

Mobile money agents have been increasing over the years with a slight decline in June when it dropped marginally by 5,481.

The mobile money agency business has been booming, especially as banks seek alternatives for brick-and-motor channels to reach their customers.

Cash handled by mobile money agents in the 10 months to October jumped by more than Sh1 trillion compared to a similar period last year, indicating a continued recovery for individuals and businesses from the pandemic-induced economic struggles.

The latest data from the CBK shows agent transactions in the period rose by 38.3 percent or Sh1.5 trillion to Sh5.64 trillion from Sh4.08 trillion in 2020.

The growth indicates the impact of eased restrictions with the reopening of learning institutions and resuming businesses activities, which push up the demand for goods and services.

The pandemic last year had slowed down economic activities, which in turn led to layoffs and reduced incomes, resulting in declined spending and investment.

Growth slid to negative 0.3 percent last year from 5.0 percent in 2019. This was the first annual gross domestic product contraction since 1992 when the output slid 0.8 percent.

The recovery has, however, started with the Central Bank expecting the economy to grow by 6.1 percent this year and 5.6 percent in 2022.