Mobile Money Reached $500bn in Africa amid Pandemic 2020

Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, mobile money transactions boomed globally in 2020, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, which accounted for 43 per cent of all new accounts, according to the GSM Association.

More than half of such accounts are in Africa, which has been the fastest-growing region for mobile phone penetration over the years. “Many of the social-economic and development challenges arising from the pandemic are being tackled with mobile money tools,” says Mats Granryd, the director-general of the London-based GSMA, an umbrella body for the mobile industry. According to the GSMA State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money 2021, “sub Saharan Africa has been at the forefront of the mobile money industry for over a decade.” It continued to account for most of the growth in 2020, with 43 per cent of all new accounts.

As at the report, the registered mobile money account in Africa grew 12 per cent to 562 million in 2020, while monthly active accounts were 161 million, an 18 per cent increase, the report found. The total transaction hit 27.5 billion up to 15%, valued at $495 million, equivalent to 23 per cent. It has 171 active mobile money services. In sub-Saharan Africa, which excludes Arab-speaking countries North Africa, registered accounts reached 548 million, a 12 per cent increase with 159 million active monthly users equivalent to 18%. The region saw transactions of 27.4 billion worth $490 billion, with the same percentage increase as the entire continent.

“The region with the absolute growth highest was in West and East Africa, Southern Africa grew the fastest at 24% year on year,” – the report found.

In 2020, mobile money transactions values grew across the board as more money circulated and was cashed-in and cashed-out than ever before, the GSMA found. Globally daily transactions exceeded $2 billion for the first time. They are expected to pass $3 billion a day by the end of 2022. “Not only are customers using their accounts more frequently, but they are using them for new and more advanced use cases. This suggest that more and more people are moving away from the margins of financial systems and leading increasingly digital lives,” according to the report.

Notwithstanding, the mobile money growth in Africa has provided opportunity pre-dominantly lies in mobile payments that aid access to new products and services across a wide variety of industries that have benefited from its penetration. As mentioned in the article, the mobile money industry is booming and one of the preferred payments in Africa. Thanks to mobile money operators’ high mobile adoption rate and innovations to capture the underserved and unserved population, as been instrumental to the gambling industry growth and other industries such as e-commerce, healthcare service, education, energy, and transports, among others.

Meanwhile, African economies evolve over the years; mobile money penetration has become the payment vehicle of first resort for many. The mobile money appeal and quick adoption in African countries have primarily been due to its democratization of financial services. But still, the rapid adoption and proliferation usage in many underserved groups aren’t due to its convenience only. As it is in many developed markets but based on its necessity in the African space, bridging the gap for unbanked people and taking advantage of the lacklustre service of the existing banking sector caused by the increasing population.

It becomes an issue for the traditional banking sector to meet the demand of the underserved people. The lack of access to banking services, poor user experience in rural and remote areas and expensive management for this set of demography contribute to consumers experience right across the customer spectrum making sub-Saharan Africa an epicentre of mobile money.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.