M-Pesa’s mobile money dominance has reportedly swelled to almost 99%
The Communications Authority (CA) of Kenya’s most recent figures show that M-Pesa is a runaway leader in the country’s mobile money market, with a market share now risen to around 98.8%.
Safaricom and Vodacom’s M-Pesa has been dominating Kenya’s money market for a long time. Since its launch in 2007, the mobile money service has become an integral service for the country’s economy, reportedly processing around 50% of the country’s GDP per year.
Part of this success comes in its flexibility. With many Kenyans migrating from rural to urban areas for work, M-Pesa allowed people to quickly and easily transfer money to their rural relatives.
M-Pesa is not without its challengers, with Airtel Africa and Telkom Kenya both offering alternatives.
However, both of these services – Airtel’s Airtel Money, and Telkom Kenya’s T-Kash – have seemingly collapsed over the last year, with M-Pesa soaking up many of the lost subscribers. Airtel Money had around 4 million subscribers in March last year, but March this year saw the figure fall to just 329,660 – a loss of around 92% of its service subscribers. T-Kash fared little better, dropping 87% from 103,585 subscribers to 13,333.
M-Pesa recorded a 10.6% rise in subscribers during this period, up to 28.842 million.
While this may seem like a drastic reshaping of Kenya’s mobile money landscape, the economic reality is less striking. The CA’s figures suggest that, at least in Airtel’s case, the amount of money being transferred on the platform has barely changed, indicating that the subscribers lost were dormant customers, not truly using the platform anyway.
Airtel and Telkom Kenya are not out of the running yet. The two operators are currently battling the courts to approve their merger, which would see their mobile money forces unite. The merger of the second and third-largest telcos in Kenya will surely have a huge impact on the country’s mobile market, but whether it can disrupt the runaway success of M-Pesa remains to be seen.
When it comes to M-Pesa’s ambitions, Kenya could be just the beginning. Its success could serve as a road map for other countries, with the service already being rolled out in Tanzania, Mozambique, DRC, Lesotho, Ghana, Egypt, Afghanistan, South Africa, India, Romania, and Albania.
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