KENYA:Mobile money transfers up by Sh252bn in nine months

Mobile money transactions grew by Sh252.39 billion in the nine months through September compared with a similar period in 2016, latest Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) data shows.

Payments hit nearly Sh2.71 trillion in the period, a 10.16 per cent rise over Sh2.46 trillion moved a year earlier, underlining e-commerce growth in the country.

About Sh300.92 billion was moved in September, a recovery from August, which had posted the biggest month-on-month drop this year at 7.3 per cent to Sh286.34 billion.

Companies and individuals have embraced mobile money payments—where Kenya is a world leader due to enhanced efficiency—compared to plastic cards whose growth has been nearly flat.

The value of cards’ payments in the January-September period stood at close to Sh1.04 trillion, largely unchanged from Sh1.05 trillion moved a year earlier.

The CBK does not usually comment on changes in the value of national payments system in its monthly updates.

The country’s six mobile money companies operated 35.537 million accounts in September compared with 34.178 million accounts in June, the CBK data shows.

Agents who facilitate the transactions rose to 167,775 from 165,109 in the period.

The mobile money platforms are Safaricom’s  M-Pesa, Airtel Money, Telkom Money, Equity Group’s  Equitel, Tangaza and MobiKash.

M-Pesa dominates the market with a share of 74.17 per cent going by value of transactions as at June, latest data from Communications Authority of Kenya shows.

“M-Pesa and similar digital financial services represent a significant improvement in the national payments technology, reducing transaction costs and lowering the barriers to entry into the formal financial system,” former CBK governor Njuguna Ndung’u wrote in a policy paper published in July.

Analysts at Citi warned in a report end-October that revenue from M-Pesa, a key driver of growth in Safaricom’s earnings, was likely to be threatened by inter-bank payment system and a 35 per cent tax on gaming firms which takes effect in January.

PesaLink, the inter-bank platform owned by Kenya Bankers Association, had moved about Sh15 billion in mid-October following its launch in February.

“We think M-Pesa’s growth going forward will be somewhat challenged by the banks, which are taking share in faster growing mobile-payments,” said the Citi analysts.