NAIROBI: Mobile phone payments hit a record high in August, underlining Kenya’s rising status as a global leader in mobile money.
The value of mobile transactions grew by a fifth to Sh248.15 billion compared to Sh206.72 billion in August last year, fresh data from the Central Bank shows. Month-on-month, the value was 3.9 per cent higher compared with Sh238.86 billion in July.
The data suggests mobile money transactions tripled compared to card payments in eight months through August.
About Sh1.81 trillion was transacted, an increase of 18.3 per cent or Sh250 billion over Sh1.53 trillion in the first eight months of last year.
Plastic card payments, on the other hand, rose by 5.7 per cent year-on-year in August to Sh884.74 billion from Sh836.96 billion a year earlier.
Cash transactions through the mobile infrastructure over the eight-month period rose by 21.02 per cent to 706.66 million transactions.
Transactions through plastic cards fell by the same margin, dropping by a fifth to 151.22 million from 190.19 million a year previously, underscoring the rising popularity of mobile money.
The data shows that about Sh7.44 billion passed through mobile phones daily on average over the review period.
The number of agents reached 136,042 in August, this year, from 124,708 a year ago, meaning the value of transaction per subscriber over the eight months averaged about Sh66,3913.
“Mobile payments are now easier to make and more commonly used in Nairobi than in advanced cities like London or New York,” Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales said in its Economic Insight report for Africa released on Tuesday.
Subscriptions to mobile money transfer services reached 27.7 million in June, latest data by the Communications Authority shows, a 7.9 per cent growth over a year before.
Safaricom’s M-Pesa controlled 77.04 per cent of the subscribers as at June with 21.34 million subscribers on its network.
The popularity of the mobile money platforms has seen commercial banks increasingly deploy technologies that allow transfer of cash from bank accounts to M-Pesa accounts of third parties.
Under the previous arrangement, a customer could only transfer cash her bank account to her M-Pesa wallet.
Safaricom has already obtained approval from the Central Bank to increase charges for transfer of cash from bank accounts to third party M-Pesa wallets from December 1.
“We have written to our partner Banks and Financial Institutions notifying these charges,” Safaricom’s director for corporate affairs Stephen Chege said on August 26. “This is a new service, and not a revision of any existing charges.”