Consumers in Kenya found convenience in mobile money to transact during the pandemic as the value of mobile commerce surged 35% last year to reach Kshs. 9.4 trillion from Kshs. 7 trillion recorded in 2019.
The Kenya Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) says this is the largest increment recorded in 5 years, a factor that is being attributed to COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Economic Survey 2021 released on Thursday, mobile money transfers also grew 20% from Kshs. 4.3 trillion recorded in 2019.
“Mobile money transfer agents and transactions have recorded steady growth in the last five years. During the review period, total amount of mobile money transfers grew by 20%, the largest increment recorded in the last 5 years, to stand at KSh 5.2 trillion in 2020. This is partly attributed to preferences of cashless transactions in the wake of COVID-19 and the reduction of mobile money transfer tariffs,” stated KNBS in the report.
On March 16, 2020, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) announced seven emergency measures to facilitate mobile money transactions in order to reduce risk of transmission of COVID-19.
Among them elimination of mobile money charges on transactions below Kshs. 1000, elimination of charges for transfers between mobile money wallets and banks accounts as well as increase in mobile money transfer tariff for Kshs. 70,000 being applicable to transaction of up to Kshs. 150,000.
“A significant increase in the use of mobile money channels by individuals in both value and number of transactions was noted. Most of the increase was in low-value transactions of Ksh.1,000 or less—this band accounts for over 80% of mobile money transactions and charges were eliminated, which has helped cushion the most vulnerable households,” said CBK Governor Dr Patrick Njoroge in June last year.
Zero charges on person-to-person transfers of up to Kshs.100 to any customer and network was introduced in January 1, 2021 following the expiry of initial measures in December last year.
In 2020, transfers through mobile money agents increased from Kshs. 274.1 billion in 2019 to Kshs. 264.4 billion while mobile money subscribers rose to 32.5 million from 29 million.
Similarly, deposits through agents rose to Kshs. 3.2 trillion from Kshs. 2.6 trillion recorded in 2019 while transfers from subscriber to subscribers stood at Kshs. 3.3 trillion as at the close of 2020, a 14% increase.
Total transactions rose marginally from 1.8 billion in 2019 to 1.9 billion in 2020.