Today, the GSMA is releasing the Decade Edition of its State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money. While mobile money has been around since 2001, when the first service launched in the Philippines, 2007 was a watershed moment for the industry. The launch of M-Pesa in Kenya that year and the lightning pace of customer adoption demonstrated the power of mobile money to reach the underserved. This report reflects on industry accomplishments over the past decade, and turns an eye to the many ways that mobile money promises to improve people’s lives in the years ahead.
Mobile money continues to expand globally. This year, for the first time, registered mobile money accounts surpassed the half a billion mark. Mobile money usage is also beginning to diversify. Although global transactions are still dominated by peer-to-peer transfers and airtime top-ups, the total number of international remittances, bill payments, merchant payments and bulk disbursements quadrupled between 2013 and 2016. Through partnerships with other financial service providers, mobile money is also giving people access to credit, savings and insurance, many for the first time.
Gaining access to financial services has meant much more than the ability to use a transactional account. People in countries around the world now enjoy the benefits of greater security, resilience, and empowerment. Institutions have likewise benefited, as mobile money has, for example, helped to reduce the cost and risk of disbursing government subsidies or humanitarian cash payments.
As we stand on the cusp of the next 10 years, the future looks promising. In part, this is because creative solutions are emerging to alleviate some of the basic challenges faced by mobile money over the past decade, from network access to identity. There are also new opportunities on the horizon. Harmonised APIs could unlock a wave of innovation, while the rapid rise of e-commerce will encourage growth of safe and transparent payment mechanisms such as mobile money.
To be sure, there are challenges ahead. Enabling regulation, steady investment, and much more will be required to realise the potential of mobile money. A wide range of stakeholders continue to support these goals, from international aid donors to foresighted governments and regulators, to start-ups and, indeed, mobile operators. In the coming decade, as the global community works to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals and as businesses strive to bring innovative ideas to more people, mobile money is likely to remain an important part of exciting trends across the emerging markets.
- There are 277 mobile money services in the world, spread over 92 countries, covering two-thirds of low- and middle-income countries
- There are more than half a billion registered mobile money accounts globally, of which 174 million are active on a 90-day basis
- 35 deployments have more than one million active accounts, indicating a greater ability to become profitable
- More than 40% of the adult population in eight countries are actively using mobile money—an increase from just two countries in 2015
- The industry processed 1.3 billion transactions in December 2016—more than 43 million transactions per day, or 30,000 transactions per minute
- Collectively, the top mobile money providers generated more than US$ 1 billion in revenues in 2016
- Mobile money contributes to 11 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, including by reducing poverty and giving people tools they can use to better manage their lives