Capital Markets

Mobile money agency transactions up 45pc


A mobile phone user makes an M-Pesa transaction. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Cash handled by mobile money agents in the eight months to August 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 Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) show agent transactions in the period rose by 44.7 percent or Sh1.3 trillion to Sh4.44 trillion from Sh3.07 trillion in 2020.

The number of times money was withdrawn or deposited increased by 20.8 percent or 244 million to 1.418 billion from 1.174 billion, indicating increased activity with the agents.

The value of transactions was recorded to Sh2.87 trillion in the same period in 2019.

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 economic activities, which in turn led to layoffs and reduced incomes, resulting in declined spending and investment.

In a Monetary Policy Committee meeting in July, CBK governor Patrick Njoroge said the economy was on a steady recovery path due to the continued rollout of vaccination programmes and noted in the manufacturing, agriculture, trade, and real estate sectors.

“The economy is expected to rebound in 2021, supported by the continued reopening of the services sectors including education, recovery in manufacturing, and stronger global demand,” the MPC statement added.

The increased mobile money usage has also increased the number of active M-Pesa, Airtel Money, and T-Kash agents to 304,822 in August from 252,703 in the same month last year, underlining the growing demand for the outlets across the country.

This also means 1,104 agencies were opened over a month from 303,718 registered last month.

The resultant Covid-19 economic fallout pushed traders and households into survival mode, resorting to the mobile money service operator business as a replacement for lost jobs or complement their reduced income.

Data from the Communications Authority of Kenya show M-Pesa controls the largest number of agents at 89.8 percent of 283,357 operating in the period ended June, while Airtel Money and T-Kash at 7.5 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively.