Capital Markets

Mobile money agents handle Sh6.2 trillion in 11 months


Safaricom employee displays the M-Pesa money transfer service on a smartphone inside a mobile phone care centre in Nairobi on November 22, 2018. PHOTO | AFP

Cash transacted by mobile money agents jumped 36 per cent to Sh6.2 trillion in the nine months to November.

Data from the Central bank of Kenya shows transactions at the agents rose from Sh4.6 trillion in a similar period a year earlier, indicating their growing use during the pandemic.

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

Kenyans have increased reliance on mobile money agents for transactions from an annual Sh2 trillion six years ago.

For four years between 2016 and 2019 Kenyans transacted Sh3 trillion on average as transactions grew modestly below 10 per cent.

However the increase has been pronounced since 2020 when transactions grew 16 per cent following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic that shifted more customer settlements to mobile, boosting agency businesses that supports the sector.

CBK introduced reliefs on mobile phone payments that were in place from March 2020, allowing free mobile money transactions of up to Sh1,000 and from banks to mobile wallets.

This was aimed at encouraging cashless payments on mobile phones as part of efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The growth also 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.

Growth slid to negative 0.3 percent in 2020 five percent in 2019. This was the first annual GDP contraction since 1992 when the output slid 0.8 percent.

Recovery has, however, started with a GDP rebound of 10.1 per cent in the second quarter and 9.9 per cent in the third quarter of last year.

The CBK is expecting the economy to grow by 6.1 percent in 2021 and 5.6 percent this year.

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