Limited access to main suite of financial services offerings, especially credit cards has driven mobile money adoption in sub-Saharan Africa.
According to analysts at Ecobank Research in an infographic released recently on Twitter, 57 percent of world’s active mobile money accounts are domiciled on the continent in 2016, a development most analysts say is as a result of limited access to financial institutions and a pervading absence of credit card culture.
To this end more and more Africans are using mobile money to transfer cash, pay bills, top up airtime, remit and pay in shops.
The infographic indicated that Africa has 100.1 million accounts or 57.6 percent of global mobile money accounts, distantly followed by South Asia with 40.4 million or 23.3 percent.
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region occupied the third position with 13.9 million accounts, representing 8 percent of world mobile money accounts.
The other region and their size of mobile money accounts are Latin America and the Caribbean 10.8 million (6.2%), East Asia 7.1 million (4.1%) and Europe and Central Asia 1.4 million or (0.8%).
Of the top 20 countries in the world for mobile money usage, 15 are in Africa, according to a survey conducted by the Gates Foundation, the World Bank and Gallup World Poll.
East Africa, led by Kenya, has 80 percent of the world’s mobile money transactions.
Africa’s mobile market topped $51 billion in 2013, which was more than the amount of money sent via mobile in Europe and North America combined in 2012, according to Gartner. In 2016 it was projected to become a $617 billion industry, according to research by Gartner.
Mobile money penetration on the continent is however extremely varied with countries like Kenya and Ghana leading the way, and countries like South Sudan and the Central African Republic falling behind.
The growing mobile money accounts is equally aided by a growing smartphone penetration and the fact that it is cheap and fast compared to going into a banking hall and waiting for a teller to do your transaction.
One major factor still remains smartphone, an analyst told Businessamlive.
Mobile smartphone subscription has risen faster in Africa than any other region in the world, according to data gleaned from Ecobank research in a tweet recently.
The tweet specifically projected that at a compound annual growth rate of 17 percent, about 850 million smartphones would be found on the continent by 2023, just six years from now.
The growth in smartphone subscription on the continent has been sporadic despite high prices and low income.
In the world generally, growth is momentous given that telephone took 76 years to reach 50 percent of all US households and the smartphone less than six years to reach the same target.