Market News

Mobile money deals rise to Sh3 trillion on Covid loans uptake


An M-Pesa agent: In eight months transactions rose seven percent. FILE photo | NMG

The value of mobile money deals in the eight months to August grew by seven percent compared to the corresponding period in 2019.

This was on the back of increased use of cashless payments in the Covid-19 period and higher borrowing using mobile apps.

Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) data shows that transactions that include cash transfers and payments for goods and services hit Sh3.068 trillion from Sh2.87 trillion transacted in a similar period last year.

The mobile money transactions continued their upward trajectory, hitting a new monthly high of Sh473.52 billion in August.

Analysts partly linked the rise to increased borrowing as financially distressed workers and households turn to mobile loans.

“During the time there was increased borrowing and M-Pesa transactions were boosted by borrowing on Fuliza,” economist and public policy analyst Robert Shaw said.

“It is not that we had more money, but we were borrowing more and thus more money was circulating through the apps.”

Safaricom subscribers more than doubled their borrowing from the overdraft service Fuliza in the six months to June.

Fuliza loans rose to Sh176 billion from Sh81 billion in the similar period last year.

There has also been an increase in the use of cashless payments in the country as people avoid handling cash to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Mobile money transaction volumes have been rising month-on-month since May, following a sharp dip to Sh308 billion in April at the peak of the restrictions including a movement ban into and out of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kwale, restricted social gatherings and a dusk-to-dawn curfew.