SSA holds 46% of global mobile money accounts – GSMA


… responsible for 64% of global transaction value in 2020

As the world progresses toward more forms of digital payments, sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) appears to have a firm grip on the mobile money segment as it currently holds 548 million of the 1.21 billion, or 46%, of global mobile money accounts.

This was contained in industry association GSMA’s recently released annual State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money, which further revealed that the volume and value of mobile money transactions in the region stood at 66% and 64% of global figures respectively at the end of 2020.

The figures show a Year-on-Year (YoY) growth of 12% for number of accounts, 15% for volume of transactions; and 23% in value of transactions at US$490billion.

This performance, however, comes as little surprise to industry observers; as SSA has been at the forefront of the mobile money industry for over a decade, and in 2020 continued to account for the majority of growth – 43% of all new accounts.

By end of the year, there were over 150 million accounts active, at the minimum, on a monthly basis. Inasmuch as absolute growth was highest in West and East Africa, however, Southern Africa grew the fastest at 24% YoY.

For the first time, the value of mobile money transactions across the globe exceeded the US$2billion a day threshold; and, unsurprisingly, it is expected to surpass the US$3billion a day mark by end of 2022.

From 2016 to 2020, the value of transactions flowing between mobile money platforms and banks has grown four-fold – reaching US$68billion in 2020, up from just US$15billion in 2015. And while it took nearly a decade for the mobile industry to reach its first 100 million monthly active accounts, it has taken just over five years to reach another 200 million.

Researchers at GSMA attribute the steady growth, particularly in the SSA region, to the more diverse ways in which customers are beginning to use mobile money services.

“This marks a change from the early days of mobile money, when the main use cases were bill payments and P2P payments in the form of occasional domestic remittances. It also demonstrates that the industry is having a profound and lasting impact – mobile money users are becoming more financially included and moving away from the financial system’s margins. In contrast, infrequent use may imply that a user is simply a recipient of remittances and not reaping the full benefits of mobile money,” the researchers said.

Also speaking about the report, Director General at GSMA Mats Granryd said: “Many of the socio-economic and development challenges arising from the pandemic are being tackled with mobile money tools… The solutions that emerged and growth that occurred despite the pandemic are a testament to the industry’s strong partnerships. These relationships enabled mobile money providers to move quickly, sustain their operations, and contribute to more robust local economies and communities”.

The GSMA’s State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money is an annual survey designed to capture quantitative information about the performance of mobile financial services around the world. All service providers represented in the GSMA Mobile Money Deployment Tracker were invited to participate in the 2020 survey.

Respondents supplied standardised operational metrics about their services for the months of September 2019, December 2019, March 2020 and June 2020, on a confidential basis. Locally, AirtelTigo, GCB Bank, MTN, Société Générale, Vodafone and Zeepay participated in the survey.

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