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FinTech

M-Pesa tops 50M users

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Mobile money pioneer M-Pesa has reached a major milestone of 50 million monthly active customers.

M-Pesa was launched in Kenya more than 14 years ago and is now available in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Ghana and Egypt.

The number of active M-Pesa customers has doubled in the past five years.

"As Africa's biggest mobile money platform, M-Pesa has been one of the continent's most astonishing financial services success stories, helping millions of people improve their lives and start businesses though financial inclusion. That said, we are still in the early stages of M-Pesa's evolution and remain firmly committed to investing significantly into expanding the M-Pesa ecosystem, particularly through our Super App platform, so that we continue to democratize financial services," said Shameel Joosub, CEO of Vodacom Group.

M-Pesa Africa MD Sitoyo Lopokoiyit called reaching 50 million customers a "remarkable milestone" which comes just 18 months after Safaricom and Vodacom took over the M-Pesa brand, product development and support services from Vodafone and created a joint venture to accelerate growth of the service across the continent.

Long history

In 2007, Safaricom and Vodafone launched M-Pesa in Kenya as a way for customers to instantly send money to each other. For many customers, the service became their first and often only access to financial services propelling its fast growth and adoption across the country.

The service has been credited with contributing significantly to the growth of formal financial inclusion across the continent.

In Kenya, access to financial services and products has increased by around 56% between 2006-2019 driven by the availability of mobile money, the Central Bank of Kenya said.

M-Pesa became an even more important platform for customers during the COVID-19 pandemic with transaction volumes increasing 44% year-on-year in the first quarter of the current financial year. The number of transactions grew to 4.5 billion in the quarter – with a total transaction value of €63 billion ($74.6 billion).

Beyond payments

Today M-Pesa has evolved into a two-sided network that provides a wide variety of financial services to both businesses and individual customers.

Customers can send and receive money, make and receive business payments, pay bills, make and receive international money transfers, save and access credit, all from their mobile phones and through more than 500,000 M-Pesa agents.

In June 2021, Safaricom launched the M-Pesa "super app", introducing one the service's key innovations in the form of mini mobile apps which enable customers and businesses to accomplish day-to-day tasks – from shopping to accessing government services – without having to download different apps for each task.

In recent years M-Pesa has also begun focusing more on businesses by expanding its ecosystem to deliver innovative solutions across micro businesses, SMEs and large businesses.

These include an open API in use by more than 45,000 developers and 200,000 businesses, the M-Pesa for Business Super App, the Transacting Till that enables businesses to go beyond receiving payments to making business payments, and Pochi La Biashara that enables small businesses to separate their personal and business funds.

Collectively, more than 500,000 businesses transact more than US$7 billion every month on M-Pesa.

Looking to the future, the service has been investing in new technologies and partnerships as it expands its financial services products like savings, loans, wealth management and insurance.

— The Staff, Connecting Africa

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