Kenyans’ use of mobile money jumps 20% in 2021

KENYA – Kenyans made 1.9 trillion mobile money transactions in the first 11 months of 2021, worth more than US$55 billion.

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) said that transactions in the first 11 months of 2021 were 20% up on the whole of 2020.

The surge in transactions came despite the government removing COVID-19 subsidies at the start of 2021.

The total for the whole of 2021 is likely to be much higher, as December was the most active month of 2020, with 181 million transactions worth the equivalent of US$5.33 billion and if that trend continued in 2021, then the total for 2021 is likely to exceed US$61 billion.

Safaricom, part of the Vodafone Group, is the pioneer provider of mobile money in Kenya, under its M-Pesa brand.

The Econet news agency says that the number of transactions in Kenya also grew by about 19% compared to the 1.6 trillion in 2020 for 66 million active accounts.

Before the December figures for 2021 are in, October recorded the highest number of transactions, at 190 million, with a value equivalent to US$5.45 billion.

The increase follows the introduction by the Central Bank of Kenya of a series of emergency measures to facilitate mobile money transactions during the lockdown.

These measures included waiving fees for mobile money transactions of up to 1,000 Kenyan shillings (US$8.80), waiving transfer fees between mobile money wallets and bank accounts.

The government at the onset of the pandemic in the nation in March 2020 made all mobile money transactions worth 8.83 dollars and below free as well as bank and mobile transactions.

This boosted usage and saw eight million subscribers join the service as cashless transactions increased, according to the Central Bank of Kenya.

These exemptions were lifted on 1 January 2021.

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