State of the Industry: A maturating mobile money industry

Over the past two decades, mobile money services have grown exponentially, driving financial inclusion for people across the world. Today there are 1.75 billion registered accounts, processing $1.4 trillion a year – or about $2.7 million a minute! These remarkable numbers show mobile money’s enormous impact, transforming billions of lives.

But the story doesn’t start and end with financial inclusion. These services are also driving businesses and in particular creating opportunities for small enterprises around the globe. D&M Group International and Alba Coffee Farm in Uganda, are perfect examples of this – mobile money has enabled Dorothy, the Managing Director of D&M International to scale her business, while Alba Coffee Director, Deus is able to connect with suppliers, customers and the larger community, without the risky practice of carrying cash.

Sub-Saharan Africa has been a key driver of mobile money’s success, and West Africa in particular has emerged as a powerhouse, with the number of registered accounts doubling in the past decade. In 2023, over a third of new registered and active 30-day accounts globally were driven mostly by growth in Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal.

Mobile money also contributes to economies by improving GDP. In the decade to 2022, mobile money contributed $600 billion to countries with these services, and this continues to grow.

It’s also exciting to see use cases evolving, as mobile money users shift away from basic transactions to more varied services.

International remittances are now one of the fastest-growing use cases of mobile money. We see the power of this when Dorothy reflects: “Previously we dealt with cash transactions, but today, my clients will pay me through mobile money and likewise with my suppliers. You can even transact beyond, in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania, so in terms of growth you are widening your networks.”

Merchant payments have also expanded, growing by 14% to around $74 billion in 2023, as many more customers now use mobile money to pay for goods and services.

And, we have also seen the average revenue per user increase by 40% between September 2022 and June 2023, which is incredible – especially during a period of slowed account and transaction growth rates. This clearly shows the potential of mobile financial services.

Crucially, mobile money remains a leading driver of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), contributing to 15 of the 17 goals, including SDG 11 (Sustainable cities and communities) and SDG 12 (Responsible consumption and production).

As we look to the future, it’s clear that mobile money services have the potential to further transform lives and economies. But we need to ensure they remain safe, accessible and affordable, and that citizens acquire the digital and financial literacy skills they need to take advantage of all the opportunities.

While the growth of mobile money over the past 20 years has been incredible, perhaps even more exciting are the opportunities that lie ahead as it continues to mature and innovate. We see glimpses of this in stories like that of Dorothy and Deus, and in the years to come I look forward to hearing many more!

To find out more about mobile money and its impact read the latest State of the Industry Report here.