Transactions worth Sh7.9 trillion ($20.3 billion) were conducted via phone agents last year, indicating the entrenchment of mobile money in Kenyans’ daily lives.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) data indicate the agents recorded a Sh1.1 trillion or 15 percent growth from the Sh6.8 trillion handled in 2021.
The amount transacted is equivalent to 65 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) of Sh12 trillion.
The proportion of Kenya’s population with access to formal financial services has jumped in recent years, driven largely by mobile technology, a survey part-conducted by the central bank showed on Wednesday.
The country is one of the world’s leaders in mobile money services and a platform like M-Pesa has since evolved from a basic SIM card-based money transfer application into a fully-fledged financial service, offering loans and savings in conjunction with local banks, plus merchant payments.
The Treasury has in the past warned that the collapse of Safaricom’s M-Pesa service would cause widespread disruption in the economy.
It said that a technology disaster affecting the M-Pesa-dominated mobile transactions is now a fiscal risk, placing the money transfer systems among other potential threats to the economy that are watched keenly by policy wonks.
The number of mobile money accounts has doubled in five years from 36 million in October 2017 to 73.1 million at the end of last year, signifying the popularity of the service among Kenyans.
Mobile money usage has played the biggest role in increasing financial inclusion over the years which now stands at 84 percent from 26.7 percent in 2006.
Financial inclusion refers to how households use financial services to meet financial needs and life priorities.
Mobile money is the most popular financial platform, according to the 2021 FinAccess household survey that reported 81.4 percent of households to use the service to meet their financial needs.
Nairobi (93.9), Kiambu (91) and Kirinyaga (90.4 ) had the highest usage of the service among counties. The usage of banks was reported at 44.1 percent.
The data also reported that the number of active agents rose to a record high of 317,983 by end of last year, marking a 6.6 percent rise.
According to the Communications Authority of Kenya, M-Pesa commands 97 percent of the mobile money market and is now the biggest contributor to Safaricom’s revenue, beating voice for two consecutive years.