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Airtel Money loses 91.9pc of subscribers in one year

Airtel Agents attend to customers at a past open day
Airtel Agents attend to customers at a past open day. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Airtel has lost 3.74 million customers on its mobile money service or 91.9 percent of the telco’s cash transfer subscribers in the year to March, cementing M-Pesa’s market share grip.

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) in its latest industry report shows that Airtel Money subscribers plunged to 329,660 customers at the end of March from 4.075 million in a similar period last year.

The fall in Airtel subscribers helped grow M-Pesa subscribers’ market share to 98.8 per cent in March or 28.84 million users from 81.3 per cent a year ago. M-Pesa recorded a 10.6 per cent rise in customers to 28.842 million in the period under review from 26.066 million in March last year.

Airtel now holds 1.13 per cent of the mobile money subscribers from 12.7 per cent in March last year. However, the value of cash moved through the network remained little changed at 0.1 per cent over the past year.

This suggests that the bulk of 3.74 million customers who quit Airtel Money were dormant subscribers.

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“M-Pesa retained the highest market share of 98.8 per cent, whereas Airtel Money and T-Kash recorded market shares of 1.1 and 0.05 per cent respectively,” said CA in the report for the quarter ended March.

The CA did not respond to the Business Daily queries on factors behind the subscriber’s market share shifts.

In the 12 months to March, Telkom’s T-Kash service lost 87 per cent of its customers to 13,333 from 103,585 in a similar period last year, underlining the challenge the two telcos face in competing with M-Pesa.

The number of accounts at M-Pesa, Airtel Money and T-Kash fell by 3.6 per cent to 29.185 million at the end of March from 30.245 million in a similar period last year.

M-Pesa, which started as a person-to-person money transfer service in March 2007, recorded a 12.6 per cent growth in revenue to Sh84.4 billion in the review period, accounting for a third of Safaricom annual sales.

The Competition Authority of Kenya has approved the planned Airtel and Telkom Kenya merger, in a deal that could challenge market leader Safaricom’s dominance of Kenya’s telecoms industry.

The combined entity would create stiffer competition for Safaricom, which now controls about two-thirds of the voice market in terms of subscribers. Telkom accounted for 5.8 per cent of Kenyan mobile subscribers in March, behind second-placed Airtel, which had a 26.6 per cent market share.

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