According to a report by Citi Research, more than 70 per cent Kenyan adults used mobile money in 2017, positioning Kenya at the top of mobile money penetration in the world. Following Kenya are Uganda, Tanzania, and Ghana with 40 to 50 per cent mobile money users.
The number of adults using mobile money at over 70 per cent in Kenya is higher than the number of adults holding traditional bank accounts at 55 per cent, the report indicates. Outside Africa, mobile money usage is also high in China, Chile, Turkey, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Brazil, and UAE.
When tracing the advent of mobile money, Citi Research notes:
“Safaricom’s M-Pesa model in Kenya grew as a result of the need to transfer funds by migrant labourers in an environment where bank account and formal payment penetration was low, the growth of mobile money
in China traces its roots to the rapid adoption of e-commerce and social media platforms that required an online payment option that subsequently grew offline.”
The Largest Mobile Money Players
The report indicates that the largest players in the mobile money scene globally include China’s Alibaba and Tencent, Kenya’s Safaricom, Telenor in Asia, and Brac Bank in Bangladesh.
In addition, the report observes that mobile money businesses are important to the economic growth of these countries.
“To gain exposure to mobile money growth, we believe the best place to start is the market leaders in Bangladesh (bKash) and Kenya (M-Pesa),” Citi Research adds.
Cash Dependency & Potential for Growth
According to the report, Kenya has a medium cash dependency compared to countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Egypt, India, Tanzania, Uganda, and Indonesia which have a high cash dependency. However, the countries have a higher potential for growth in the mobile money sector than those that are already leading the space.
In Kenya, the absence of alternative payment options is high while regulatory and institutional support for the mobile money sector is also high. In Tanzania and Uganda, the absence of alternative payment options is high while regulatory and institutional support in the two countries is medium.