Cash mobile money agents handled in the nine months to September went up by 17.6 percent, indicating the growing mobile money penetration in Kenya.
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) data show the transactions were recorded at Sh5.91 trillion, up from Sh5.03 trillion in similar period in 2021, doubling in four years.
This underpins the growing relevance of mobile money and the high penetration rate in the country whereby money is transferred through mobile money channels while others deposit hard cash at the agents to make payments such as school fees, rent, water bills and government services.
The latest findings of the Financial Access (FinAccess) Household survey also show higher usage of mobile money accounts than banks, deepening financial access.
The report shows Nairobi has the highest usage of mobile money services at more than 93.9 percent of the population, followed by Kiambu (91 percent), Murang’a (90.4 percent) Nyeri (89.8 percent) and Mombasa (88.6 percent).
Mobile money services are popular in areas with fewer financial service providers and products such as Garissa, Wajir, Tana River and Marsabit where agents are available.
The CBK data shows that the total value of transactions in September slowed down to Sh674.47 billion compared to July and August, which recorded Sh722.5 billion and Sh677.36 billion, respectively.
This matches a trend in cash in circulation in the economy that also recorded a jump ahead of the August General Election, touching a record high of Sh267.7 billion in July.
The CBK data showed cash outside the banking system rose by 6.5 percent to Sh267.7 billion in July from Sh251.4 billion in June, and slightly reduced to Sh257.1 billion in August.
The record figures seen in the two months point to the possibility that Kenyans withdrew cash in anticipation of poll disruptions.
The spike also points to the possibility that politicians withdrew large sums for their campaigns. Politicians spend millions on voter facilitation, advertisement, vehicle, equipment branding and poster printing, among other costs.
Kenya has recently achieved full interoperability of paybills allowing M-Pesa, Airtel Money and T-Kash customers to make payments for utilities across networks, widening the service usage. The service came after the till interoperability, which allowed customers to pay for goods and services across different networks.
The Kenyan economy is largely made up of the informal sector, and the adoption of mobile money to receive payments has reduced dependence on cash and payment cards while giving commercial banks a run for their money.