Mobile money transactions have been on the rise in recent months as more Kenyans prefer digital payments to cash payments. The onset of the covid19 pandemic pushed businesses and consumers toward mobile-based transactions in an effort to limit the spread of the virus through cash payments.
According to data from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), the value of mobile money transactions in the first five months of this year jumped to KSh2.7 trillion, a 56% increase from KSh1.8 trillion in the same period last year. Similarly, the number of mobile transactions increased to 874.5 million from 710.3 million in the period under review. In May 2021, mobile based payments reached KSh537 billion, a huge increase from KSh357 billion in May 2020.
Based on CBK data, Kenyans transacted an average of KSh18 billion on their mobile phones daily between January and May this year, up from KSh12 billion average daily transactions in the corresponding period in 2020.
Growth in e-commerce also contributed to the jump in mobile-money transactions in Kenya. Most supermarkets, restaurants, clothes shops, and other businesses moved their operations online after the introduction of covid restrictions last year. According to Kenya’s largest mobile money service provider, Safaricom, one-month active Lipa na M-PESA tills grew by almost 75% YoY to around 302,000 in the last financial year.
The number of active mobile money agents in the country increased to 298,883 at the end of May, from 243,118 a year ago. Safaricom’s Mpesa agents in Kenya reached 247,900 at the end of the financial year on 31st March 2021, up from 173,235 a year earlier.
According to Safaricom, mobile-based payments are preferable to cash payments as they significantly reduce the potential risks of street robbery, burglary and petty corruption.