Mobile money payments began with the innovative Mpesa service in 2007. A decade later, the service is widely used across the continent and in other parts of the world. An estimated 30 million Mpesa users are spread out in more than 10 countries including; Kenya, Tanzania, D.R. Congo, Lesotho, Egypt, Ghana, Albania, and Romania. Additionally, there are other mobile money service providers such as Orange money and MTN money.
The Sub-Sahara region leads in the use of mobile money transactions throughout the world. Mobile-based transactions in the region account for close to 10 percent of the GDP compared to 7 percent of GDP in Asia and only 2 percent of GDP in other regions.
Mobile money has increased the level of financial inclusion in Africa. Majority of the population who are unbanked use their phones for important financial services like; to save money, receive payments, settle bills, invest in government securities, and to borrow funds.
Rapid innovations in mobile money technologies are driving economic growth in Africa through creating employment opportunities, improving access to financial services, and lowering transaction costs.
A report by IMF notes that Africa needs to capitalize on the success of mobile money. The report states, ‘Greater digital inclusion and innovation will not only spur economic growth but a growth that comes with new jobs…Africa is well positioned to meet its fintech and digital challenges and with the right policies in place, it could reap a ‘digital dividend’”