The GSM Association (GSMA) announced at the ongoing Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that the number of active Mobile Money accounts globally now exceeds 100 million and sub-Saharan Africa accounts for more than half (53 percent) of these.
“2014 saw a steep increase in the number of international remittances via mobile money, primarily driven by the introduction of a new model using mobile money as both the sending and receiving channel,” according to the GSMA’s 2014 Mobile Financial Services for the Unbanked report.
Commenting on the impressive growth of mobile money, Ismail Ahmed, founder and CEO of Worldremit, a leading international remittance company, which recently raised $100 million to enable users of its service to transfer money from 50 countries to 117 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, said the rapid growth of mobile money services is one of “the biggest enlargements of participation in the global financial system, ever”.
“As the leading sender of remittances to Mobile Money, WorldRemit understands the life opportunities that are unlocked when people have the ability to receive, spend and save money via a mobile device.
“Cash is increasingly becoming an obsolete technology as the developing world sprints ahead of the developed in its adoption of Mobile Money,” Ahmed adds.
Sub-Saharan Africa records the highest level of mobile money penetration, of all regions in the world. As at December 2014, 23.0 percent of mobile connections in Sub-Saharan Africa were linked with a mobile money account. However, in East Africa, there was almost one mobile money account for every two mobile connections, with Kenya, the region’s largest economy driving the growth. Last year, transactions worth $26.3 billion were made via mobile phones in Kenya.
According to GSMA, international remittances is one of the main sources of incoming funds to Mobile Money. With the global remittance market said to be worth $550 billion, Worldremit is determined to tap into this. Ahmed said last month that the firm was striking partnerships with mobile money service providers to ensure a more effective money transfer service.
More than 50 percent of Worldremit’s transfers to Africa are currently received as Mobile Money or airtime top-ups. In January, it announced a partnership with telecoms giant MTN, enabling transfers to all 16 of the company’s Mobile Money services.