The 2023 SOTIR “Regional Cuts”: Charting mobile money in Africa and Asia

For over a decade, the GSMA’s State of the Industry Report (SOTIR) has served as a window into the health and wealth of the mobile money industry. For mobile money providers and the wider ecosystem, SOTIR has become a well-regarded source of data that shows the growth of mobile money services worldwide. Based on data acquired directly from the industry, the report’s aim has been to show and explain what underpins annual progress.

Three numbers tell us how the industry performed in 2022:

  • Registered mobile money accounts grew by 13% year-on-year, from 1.4 billion in 2021 to 1.6 billion in 2022.
  • Transaction values grew by 22% between 2021 and 2022, from $1 trillion to around $1.26 trillion.
  • Mobile money agents grew from 12 million in 2021 to around 17 million in 2022 – a staggering 41% year-on-year increase.

While SOTIR itself offers rich insights derived from industry data, the GSMA Mobile Money Programme typically publishes shorter regional reports to accompany SOTIR. Within the team, we call these “regional cuts”, a term that originated from the global data being “cut” by region. These cuts allow the team to look at specific progress drivers by region, as well as highlight unusual or impressive trends (sometimes even both!). Importantly, they highlight gains made by the mobile money ecosystem in high-growth regions. For instance, when it emerged that West Africa was beginning to match East Africa’s growth in 2016, we published a first-ever West Africa regional cut.

This year, we have decided to publish three regional cuts: Asia-Pacific, Sub-Saharan Africa and West Africa. For the first time, all three reports are being published at the same time. This should allow providers in the two largest mobile money regions, Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, to compare themselves without delay.

We have retained our focus on West Africa as a high-growth sub-region which accounted for 33% of all new registered mobile money accounts in 2022. This was the highest share of any sub-region worldwide in 2022; for comparison, East Africa accounted for 22% of new registered accounts. West Africa contributed over one-third of new accounts active on a monthly basis too. It is the leading global sub-region in mobile money enabled international remittances and merchant payments.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the global epicentre of mobile money, with almost half of all registered accounts, and over half of global accounts active on a monthly basis. With $2.3 billion transacted per day, the sub-continent accounts for two-thirds of all mobile money transactions.

Outside of Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia has the most monthly active accounts of any region globally at 82 million. East Asia and the Pacific leads the drive towards non-cash mobile money usage, with 82% of transactions being digital compared to 61% of digital transactions globally.

The regional cuts are designed to be additional resources for the mobile money ecosystem and for others interested in the sector to learn more about progress at a regional level. For the GSMA’s Mobile Money Programme, creating them allows us to maintain our position as the leading source of mobile money insights. But beyond this, the process itself is a lot of fun: we get the opportunity to slice many years’ worth of industry data in tried and new ways. For the data team that produces these insights, mining data to reveal new trends is perhaps the second-best achievement. The first is knowing that your work is showcasing the best of the industry.

Click here to access this year’s regional cuts, and here to read the GSMA’s State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money 2023.