By Conrad Onyango, bird story agency
Safaricom's activation of M-Pesa in Ethiopia, will initiate battle for a potentially huge mobile money market. But for once, the regional giant won't have it all its own way. Ethio Telecom’s fintech solution, Telebirr is already a step ahead.
Over 2.7 million Safaricom customers who have signed up since the East African giant started operations in Ethiopia in 2021 are eligible for the mobile money service, according to the telco's top official.
“M-Pesa is known to be a game-changer for financial inclusion. We will continue to broaden the services our customers receive from the M-PESA platform,” said Safaricom Ethiopia Interim Chief Executive Officer, Stanley Njoroge on August 18, in an announcement that the service was live,
Ethiopia offers a substantial market, with its population of 120 million, compared with Kenya's population of 53 million.
In Kenya, M-Pesa transactions rose to Ksh21.03 billion (US$147 million) in the financial year ending March 2023, a significant increase from the Ksh15.75 billion (US$110 million) registered the year before.
The service, which launched in Kenya in 2007, has seen transactions worth some KSh35.86 trillion (US$248 billion) - almost three times Kenya's current Gross Domestic Product - processed since inception.
The mobile money service crossed the 30 million active monthly users mark in Kenya in March 2022, driven largely by innovative micro-credit facilities that offer loans without collateral.
In August, Kenya’s Central Bank approved an increase of the daily M-pesa transaction limit from Ksh 300,000 (US$2,079) to Ksh 500,000 (US$ 3,465), highlighting the service's growing popularity among small businesses.
According to Safaricom, M-Pesa has enabled massive growth in financial inclusion in Kenya, with over 90% of the adult population now having access to mobile banking.
“We look forward to replicating this success in Ethiopia ,” said Interim Safaricom M-PESA Mobile Financial Services PLC, General Manager, Paul Kavavu.
In May, Safaricom became the first foreign-owned entity to get a mobile money service licence from the country’s banking regulator, National Bank of Ethiopia.
The licensing and activation now puts M-Pesa in direct competition with Telebirr, which started operations the same year that Safaricom launched in the country.
In its 2022-2023 annual business performance review, Ethio Telecom reported that Telebirr has racked up 34.3 million subscribers, with a transaction value of ETB 679.2 billion (US$12.3 billion), over the last two years, with no competition.
It has mainly targeted governmental and non-governmental institutions, the fuel industry and banks.
“Integration with Banks is completed enabling money transfer from Bank to Telebirr in 23 Banks and from Telebirr to Bank in 21 Banks,” Ethio Telecom reported.
Telebirr’s latest partnership is with Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, opening the service up to the bank's over ETB 1 trillion (US$ 18.2 billion) in deposit volumes.
“The bank will provide loans in cooperation with Ethio telecom so as to increase financial inclusion and will continue to further strengthen such activities and initiatives to achieve the overall development of Ethiopia,” according to a joint statement by Ethio Telecom and the bank.
M-Pesa has more than 51 million banked and unbanked customers in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Lesotho, DRC, Ghana, Mozambique, Egypt, and now, in Ethiopia.
GSMA’s State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money 2023, shows Africa's mobile money transactions grew by 21%, or US$ 44.9 billion, to be worth US$836.5 billion in 2022.
East Africa had the highest mobile money transaction value, worth US$491 billion, after 23% growth driven by 115 million active accounts.
The continent accounted for the nearly two-thirds of US$1.26 trillion transacted globally.
bird story agency
Report link- https://www.gsma.com/sotir/#download