The number of registered mobile money accounts worldwide has surpassed the one-billion mark, with the processing of about $2-billion in transactions undertaken every day.
A new GSMA ‘State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money’ report shows that 2019 marked a major milestone for the mobile money industry, which is just over a decade old.
“The industry is witnessing increasing user trust and relevance. With 290 live services in 95 countries and 372-million active accounts, mobile money is entering the mainstream and becoming the path to financial inclusion in most low-income countries,” said GSMA chief regulatory officer John Giusti.
For the first time, digital transactions represented the majority, at 57%, of mobile money interactions and flows, a shift from the historical cash-in and cash-out transactions.
This provided an indication of the scale of the impact the mobile money landscape and greater financial inclusion has on lives, economies and innovation, especially in emerging markets.
“For consumers, this marks a shift away from cash towards digital payments — for school fees, e-commerce, international remittances, savings, credit, pay-as-you-go utilities and more, he said.
Mobile money services are available in 96% of countries where less than a third of the population have an account at a formal financial institution.
The industry holds the potential of including, in the digital economy, the nearly 1.7-billion people who remain financially excluded.
“Increased mobile connectivity and innovative services such as mobile money are building stronger and more inclusive communities,” he continued, noting that the reach of mobile money agents is now 20 times that of brick-and-mortar banks and seven times more than ATMs.
The industry continues to invest in distribution networks, with the number of agent outlets almost tripling over the past five years.
Per 100 000 adults, there are 11 banks, 33 ATMs and 228 mobile money agents.
In addition, more value is circulating in the mobile money system than exiting – another industry first.
The report showed that the total value in circulation reached $22-billion in December 2019, more than doubling over the last two years and significantly surpassing the total value of outgoing transactions of $17.5-billion.
“Regulation that enables low-cost services for the financially excluded has been crucial to the success of mobile money, and there is a clear correlation between an enabling regulatory environment and a high mobile money adoption rate,” Giusti added.
However, certain policy decisions, such as sector-specific taxation and data localisation requirements, are putting pressure on the industry and create a real risk of long-term negative impacts on financial inclusion gains, access to innovative services, and delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals.
“We are moving in the right direction, and with the right tools, we are a step closer to achieving an inclusive digital future for all.”