Mobile money services are growing faster than previously anticipated worldwide, particularly in Africa, according to the annual State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money 2023 by the GSMA, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The report reveals that the adoption rates are even quicker than predicted, with registered mobile money accounts growing 13% year-on-year, from 1.4 billion in 2021 to 1.6 billion in 2022.
High mobile phone penetration on the African continent has made mobile money an increasingly popular way to access financial services. In 2022, daily transactions via mobile money in Africa exceeded the $3 billion amount predicted in 2021, reaching $3.45 billion. The total transaction value for mobile money grew 22% between 2021 and 2022, from $1 trillion to approximately $1.26 trillion.
Although mobile money has seen substantial growth, the GSMA Mobile Money Programme acknowledges that more work is required to help give underserved communities access to safe, secure, and affordable financial services. The program is collaborating with mobile operators and industry stakeholders to create a robust mobile money ecosystem, increasing the relevance and utility of these services and ensuring their sustainability.
There are now 315 live mobile money deployments across the globe, with peer-to-peer (P2P) transfers and cash-in/cash-out transactions remaining among the most popular use cases. Bill payments using mobile money grew by 36% year-on-year, faster than any other use case, and the industry is focusing on use case diversification to digitize economies.
Mobile money services have continued to show resilient growth even as the world moves on from the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic alone, up to 400 million accounts were added. This rapid uptake is largely due to the technology’s role in enabling millions of people across low- and middle-income countries, particularly in Africa, to access digital financial services. The number of accounts active on a 30-day basis is also growing by 13% year-on-year to 401 million in 2022.
Mobile money is driving financial inclusion for the world’s unbanked, particularly women in African rural communities, where access to mobile money can play a transformational and empowering role.
However, there is still a mobile money gender gap, which has shown signs of widening over the last year, particularly in Africa. Several barriers and cultural norms prevent women from adopting mobile money. As a result, women in low- and middle-income countries are currently 28% less likely than men to own a mobile money account.
The number of mobile money agents in Africa also increased significantly last year, with a 41% increase between 2021 and 2022. The overall number of agents went from 12 million in 2021 to 17.4 million in 2022.
The number of active agents increased by 25% to 7.2 million in 2022. Agents continued to be an invaluable part of mobile money services and were responsible for two-thirds of all cash-in transactions in 2022.
Max Cuvellier, Head of Mobile for Development at GSMA, said, “It is promising to see the continued growth of mobile money worldwide, especially in Africa. Mobile money has afforded millions of unbanked and underserved people in low- and middle-income countries access to digital financial services, for the first time.”