Market News

Business deals push Kenya's mobile money accounts to 45m


A display of M-Pesa transaction. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Mobile money accounts crossed 45 million mark for the first time in October underlining the impact of the 11-year old innovation in driving financial inclusion.

Nearly 9.44 million mobile accounts were opened in 12 months through October, taking the total past 45.43 million accounts, according to the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) mobile payments data released Thursday.

The popularity of mobile money transfer services continues to rise among businesses and persons, with some of the previously unbanked using the platforms as primary accounts for financial transactions.

Deals worth Sh3.90 trillion were settled via mobile phones in the period, which was Sh289.42 billion or 8 percent more than the corresponding period a year earlier.

The growth is largely supported by increasing adoption of mobile payments by major sectors of the economy such as financial services, retail and wholesale trade, agriculture and health.

Unlike during the formative years when the mobile money platforms were largely used for person-to-person (P2P) cash transfers, they are now increasingly being used to initiate and cut business deals such as purchase of goods and services as well as processing of instant short-term loans.

Mobile payments

Mobile payments between January and October hit Sh3.27 trillion, a growth of Sh265.84 billion over the same period in 2017.

The increased adoption of mobile money channels has seen renewed calls for daily transaction limit to be raised.

Currently, one is allowed to send up to Sh70,000 per transaction, maintain a maximum account balance of Sh100,000 with daily transaction limit capped at Sh140,000.

Safaricom chief customer officer Sylvia Mulinge last month called on the CBK to double the ceiling, citing banks which are allowed to transact up to Sh999,999 through their interbank mobile payment channel, PesaLink.

“Kenyans do a lot of transactions as part of their everyday enterprise and, therefore, the more we increase the limit, the more they are able to use these platforms.

"I hope the central bank will consider our application because it’s a cry of Kenyans,” Ms Mulinge said.