Mobile Money Transactions Reached $1T Annually as per GSMA report.
The milestone figures are a sign of strong industry growth as accounts, value, and volume of transactions all soar.
30 March 2022, Johannesburg – The GSMA has today published its 10th annual ‘State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money. It reveals that mobile money adoption and use saw continued growth in 2021, processing a record $1 trillion annually. The industry enjoyed a substantial increase in the number of registered accounts, up 18% since 2020 reaching 1.35 billion globally. The volume of person-to-person transactions was up to more than 1.5 million every hour.
The report reveals that one of the most significant drivers of growth was merchant payments, which almost doubled year on year. It also highlights how mobile money continues to act as a core pillar of financial and economic inclusion, particularly for women.
Providing significant growth in merchant payments
In 2021, mobile money’s value proposition expanded beyond person-to-person transfers and cash-in/cash-out transactions. It is currently playing an increasingly essential role in people’s and enterprises’ daily lives, particularly in low- and middle-income nations (LMICs). Ecosystem transactions, such as merchant payments, overseas remittances, bill payments, and bulk disbursements, are accounting for a larger share of the global mobile money transaction mix, along with interoperable transactions.
In 2021, merchant payments were critical to the growth of the mobile money industry. Merchant payments nearly doubled in value, hitting an average of $5.5 billion in monthly transactions. Providers are demonstrating that stronger incentives, such as quick remote onboarding processes, can entice enterprises to use their platform. More than 18 percent of new merchants in Kenya have self-onboarded since Safaricom’s M-PESA began allowing companies to register for an account online.
“2021 was the year mobile money started to really diversify to B2B services. Beyond traditional person-to-person transactions, such as transferring money to family or friends, the industry is now central in helping small businesses operate more efficiently, and serve their customers better”said Max Cuvellier, Head of Mobile for Development, GSMA.
Increasing financial inclusion for women
Mobile money has also helped the world’s most disadvantaged people, notably women, gain access to financial services. Women are using mobile money to get more control over their finances and acquire items that they desperately require. Furthermore, according to the GSMA Global Adoption Survey, 44 percent of providers now provide credit, savings, or insurance products, allowing underserved people to invest in their livelihoods and futures.
There are still certain impediments to vulnerable people benefiting from mobile money, with the gender gap in account ownership ranging from 7% in Kenya to 71% in Pakistan. Having a cell phone is an obvious requirement for using mobile money, but women in LMICs are 7 percent less likely than males to hold one. Women own 143 million fewer mobile phones than males. A lack of understanding about mobile money, as well as a perceived lack of relevance, expertise, and skills, are further impediments to mobile money adoption.
While considerable progress has been made, the research emphasizes that more needs to be done to close the gender gap in mobile money across LMICs. To learn from successful experiences, solve the issue, and guarantee that current gender imbalances are not further entrenched, politicians, the private sector, funders, and other stakeholders must work together, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mobile Money enables access to humanitarian aid, utilities, and agricultural solutions
As highlighted in the report, in 2022, the number of people needing humanitarian assistance is predicted to soar to 274 million. Mobile money is expected to play an increasingly important role in both donations – where it makes delivery systems more efficient and transparent for humanitarian actors and donors – and the receipt of aid.
The UN Refugee Agency sent $700 million in cash and value assistance (CVA) to 8.5 million recipients in 100 countries in 2020. They have set up digital payment programs in 47 countries,15 of which use mobile money. In many humanitarian settings, the digitization of CVA via mobile money has the potential to promote agency and dignity and foster financial inclusion.
Mobile money also helps to enable access to basic utility services and agricultural solutions in LMICs. And to ensure this work continues, the mobile industry and humanitarian sector must keep working together to advance inclusive digital and financial inclusion even further for those who need it most.