Research shows that mobile phone money transfers are surpassing debit cards in Kenya


Recent industry data from Kenya reveals that four in five of the country’s new cell phone subscribers are also signing up for money transfer services, confirming that the handset has become a key tool for the country’s financial inclusion efforts.

Released in early January, the report found that 83.9% of customers enlisting in mobile phone service plans between July and September of 2011 also signed up for money transfer services. By the end of September, 26.5 million customers had mobile phones out of which 18.4 million—or 69.5%—were using mobile money.

Compared to the previous year’s third quarter, the amount that customers deposited grew by 58.6%, indicating that the uptake of the money services by consumers had gathered pace between September 2010 and June 2011.

The new data comes as an increasing number of financial services and telecommunication companies and commercial banks announce partnerships that are expected to help them tap into money transfer and plastic money payment systems. “For retail payment systems, mobile money transfers are today the most widely used mode of payment in Kenya followed by the use of plastic cards,” commented the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), showing that Sh560 million was moved using plastic money compared to Sh732 billion through mobile money transfer between January and December 2010. In the first nine months of last year, Sh428 billion was moved using 8.65 million plastic money cards that were in the market.