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Sub-Saharan Africa dominates in global mobile money industry - GSMA

Sub-Saharan Africa dominates in global mobile money industry - GSMA

Last year, mobile money transactions in the region reached US$19.9 billion – 63% of the global figure.

In 2017 the global mobile money industry processed transactions to the value of US$1 billion a day and generated direct revenue of over US$2.4 billion – and Sub-Saharan Africa has been identified as a leading market in this regard.

Mats Granryd, Director General at the GSMA said Sub-Saharan Africa is a dominant region as mobile money evolves into the leading payment platform for the digital economy with 690 million registered accounts in 90 countries around the world.

"The pioneer of mobile money, Sub-Saharan Africa is still the global leader in the sector, accounting for almost half of all registered customers globally. Last year, mobile money transactions in Sub-Saharan Africa reached US$19.9 billion – 63 percent of the global figure – and represented two-thirds of the volume of total transactions."

Granryd said while Sub-Saharan Africa remains the epicentre of mobile money with growth in the region showing no sign of slowing, mobile money has also gaining traction in other parts of the world.

"In 2017, for the first time, industry growth was led by another region. With 47 per cent year-on-year growth, South Asia was the fastest-growing region in terms of registered mobile money accounts and now represents 34 percent of registered accounts globally. Mobile money is clearly reaching scale all over the world. A steady increase in active customers, transactions and direct revenue are all signs that mobile money is evolving into a sustainable industry and represents an important driver of economic growth in developing markets, particularly through formalising payments, increasing transparency and boosting GDP."

Growth potential within Sub-Saharan Africa

Granryd added that the spread of mobile money beyond traditional footholds is also evident in within Sub-Saharan Africa itself. He says in 2017, Western and Central Africa were the fastest growing regions on the continent, led by high growth of registered accounts in countries that include Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana.

"For example, in just four years, MTN Ghana has experienced exponential growth in mobile money account activity. Regulation played a role here, following the introduction of a new set of rules by the Bank of Ghana in July 2015. Between 2012 and 2017, activity rates grew from seven per cent to over 70 percent."

Granryd believes mobile money in Sub-Saharan Africa matured in 2017 as evidenced by new trends like the accelerated growth of bank-to-wallet interoperability, the growing adoption of smartphones, the proliferation of FinTech companies, the digitisation of new sectors of the economy, and renewed efforts by companies and governments to reach the most vulnerable and underserved.

Rob Shuter, Group President and CEO at MTN echoed Granryd's sentiments at the company's annual financial results presentations last week where he announced plans by the telco to invest in widespread use of mobile money in three of its largest markets - South Africa, Nigeria and Iran in 2018.

"For mobile money we are now in 14 markets with 22 million active thirtyday users and round about a million net-adds in December alone, so this business is scaling quite rapidly. It's a big business if you look at transaction value in December 2017 of five billion dollars. That's five billion dollars a month on the MTN mobile money system and about four to five thousand transactions a minute. I think we have built a wonderful foundation and growth in the future will come from rapid scaling in those 14 markets, introducing new markets, expanding the portfolio of services in the mobile money world from money-in-money-out or P2P to value added services."

Earlier this week, Kenyan mobile network operator Telkom Kenya unveiled its new mobile money platform called T-kash which already has 20,000 agents across the country signed up to facilitate transactions, according to the company's CEO Aldo Mareuse.

"Value, convenience and security as well as reliability are at the core of our proposition. This is what our customers are asking for in a mobile money service...," said Mareuse.

In Kenya, Safaricom has over 70% of the total mobile phone subscribers and a firm grip on the country's mobile money industry.

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