Kenya: World Remit Sees Technology Accelerating Remittance Inflows to Kenya

Global payments company, World Remit, sees remittance inflows to Kenya growing aggressively in 2022 thanks to advancements in digital technology in the financial services sector.

Money sent back home by Kenyans in the diaspora has hit a record high every year since 2016, with data from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) showing that inflows reached USD 3.71 billion (Sh421.98 billion) in 2021, up 20.2 percent from USD 3.09 billion (sh351.46 billion)a year earlier.

Sharon Kinyanjui, WorldRemit's Director for Europe, Middle East, and Africa Receive markets, noted that the continued shift to digital remittance technologies has made it more convenient and affordable for those in the diaspora to send money back home.

"The shift to digital remittances accelerated during the pandemic and has contributed to the strong inflows we've seen in Kenya. Digital technology has disrupted the cost of remittances by making it more affordable. It has also improved the speed of transactions and the overall customer experience.," she said.

She said the firm has conducted several surveys in the past few years to understand the main uses of remittances in Kenya. "Our findings indicate that education is one of the main uses of remittances to Kenya. We also see remittances being sent for medical expenses. There is also a growing number of people who send money back home for investment purposes," said Ms. Kinyanjui.

CBK data indicates that the US is the largest source of remittances into Kenya, accounting for 63.2 percent of inflows in 2021. Other key sources of remittances to Kenya are the UK, Germany, and Canada.

Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Bahrain have also emerged as important drivers of remittances. According to the Labour Ministry, the number of Kenyans in the Middle East has risen to above 97,000 from about 55,000 in 2019.

"With travel picking up again and the Middle East remaining a popular destination for Kenyans looking for jobs and opportunities, we expect remittances from the region to remain strong and resilient," she said.

Kinyanjui noted that although the firm has always been digital-first since its founding in 2010, it continues to invest in its technological platforms, including security and customer support, to stay ahead of the curve.

WorldRemit's service allows customers to send money from 50 countries to recipients in 130 countries worldwide, including Kenya. The process of sending money is 100% digital.

Customers receive money directly on their mobile money wallets such as M-PESA or Airtel money, as cash pick up from WorldRemit's partner banks and licensed financial institutions, as bank transfer in their local currency or to their USD bank account, and as airtime top-up.

Over the past ten years, the service has grown to serve more than 5.7 million customers, using 70 different currencies.