MOBILE MONEY : Sub-Saharan Africa tops with US$456bn in value

A new report on the global mobile money industry has shown that sub-Saharan Africa is the largest market for the payment platform in the world, taking an over 66 percent share of the industry.

The 2019 State of The Industry Report published by GSMA indicates that out of a global value of US$690billion for the mobile money industry, sub-Saharan Africa alone has a more than US$456billion share of the total. The only region that comes anywhere close is South Asia, which hit a value of US$125billion – less than one-third of the sub-Saharan Africa value.

East Asia and Pacific also follow with US$79billion, and Latin America and the Caribbean with US$16.5billion. The Middle East and North Africa, and Europe and Central Asia recorded US$9billion and US$3.8billion respectively.

But even within Africa, East Africa continues to maintain its dominance in the industry with more than US$293billion in value, followed by West Africa with US$130billion. This essentially means that Africa is driving its financial inclusion agenda largely through the mobile money platform.

According to the GSMA report, what also accelerated mobile money growth is the role of agents, which have seven times the reach of ATMs and 20 times the reach of bank branches.

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In 2019, says the report, the number of registered mobile money accounts reached 1.04 billion. Sub-Saharan Africa is the enduring epicentre of mobile money, adding over 50 million registered accounts in 2019. This was driven by strong growth in Western Africa (21 million new accounts).

The case of Ghana

Data from the Bank of Ghana has revealed that mobile money transactions growth continues to be a dominant force in the financial sector, growing at double rates compared to bank transactions – a further testimony that it holds the key to financial inclusion in the country.

According to the Summary of Economic and Financial data (March 2020), mobile money transactions recorded GH¢30billion in value as of the end of February 2020. However, cheques – which is the main payment system for banks – recorded GH¢14billion. Again, the number of active agents for the mobile money platform has reached 235,000.

What makes the mobile money platform even more powerful is when the number of transactions is brought into light. The total number of transactions recorded under mobile money as of February 2020 was 193 million; whereas that of cheques was 536,000.

The World Bank says Ghana is the fastest-growing market for the mobile money platform in Africa.

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