Future of Banking: Mobile Money Services: Africa`s Telcos ‘Cash Cow’ and Game Changer


“The most effective barrier for the success of mobile money around the world is the banking lobby.” –Bob Collymore, ex-CEO at Safaricom – Kenya


Mobile financial services span the full spectrum of financial services, from payments and current accounts to savings, loans, investments, and insurance. Mobile money enables customers to send, receive, and store money using their mobile phones. It is a subset of mobile financial services provided mainly by telco companies. A bank typically holds the underlying funds in a dedicated stored value or linked current account.

Mobile Money

Mobile money has revolutionised the way financial services are delivered around the world. Mobile platforms change lives by reducing costs, increasing transparency, and creating economic empowerment opportunities for people and businesses. The product was first popularised by Safaricom and Vodafone’s M-Pesa (“M” for “mobile” and “pesa” for “money” in Swahili) in Kenya, which started in 2007. 

Mobile money is a form of digital payment that allows users to send and receive money using their mobile phones. The service enables users to store money in a digital wallet, which they can use to pay for goods and services, transfer funds, pay bills, and even withdraw cash from authorised agents. More recently, fintechs have established a solid footing in the market, and several banks are beginning to compete aggressively for mobile banking customers. While some banks have chosen to “go it alone,” others are forming partnerships to reach the market faster.

‘MoMo’ and Africa as global leader

Africa is the global leader in mobile money, which has become essential to Africa’s financial services landscape. Mobile network operators have dominated mobile money services in Africa for nearly two decades. Mobile money payments have transformed how people transact in Africa, especially in rural areas with limited access to traditional banking services.

Half of the mobile money services worldwide are in Africa. The sub-Saharan African region has been at the forefront of mobile money for years. Thus, the continent remains the global leader in mobile money services (Senyo. PK, 2021).

Mobile money has become a game-changer in Africa, where over 60% of the population is unbanked. The service has provided a way for people to access financial services that were previously out of reach, especially in rural areas. The convenience and accessibility of mobile money have also helped to boost economic growth by enabling businesses and individuals to transact more quickly and efficiently.

Mobile Money Fostering Financial Inclusion in Africa

Mobile money payments have been crucial in fostering financial inclusion in Africa, especially for the unbanked population. The service has enabled people to access financial services that were previously out of reach and has provided a way for them to save, invest, and access credit. Mobile money payments have also provided a way for businesses to provide financial services to individuals, boosting economic growth.

According to the GSM Association’s State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money 2023, globally, there are 1.6 billion registered mobile money accounts, growing 13% year-on-year in 2022, and 781 million of those are in Africa, with accounts on the continent spiking 17% year-on-year. Total transaction values grew 22% between 2021 and 2022 to US$1.26 trillion.

Experts echo mobile money’s role in fostering financial inclusion in Africa in the quote “It is clear that mobile money is driving financial inclusion worldwide. As it continues to grow, it offers an incredible opportunity to reach the 1.4 billion people who still do not have access to financial services. As we work towards a sustainable and resilient future in which everyone will connect, it is vital that we also keep working on designing safe and secure financial services for all.

Figure 1: Growth in mobile money and bank interoperability (in Billions, 2015-2020) 

Source: State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money GSMA 2021

Some Giant Telcos with MoMo Services across the continent.

  • Vodafone/Safaricom M-Pesa 
  • Orange Money
  • MTN Mobile Money
  • Airtel Money

These have millions of users across the continent. Statista says these four mobile money services account for a significant market share, primarily as over 144 providers operate in Sub-Saharan Africa. These services allow users to send and receive money, pay bills, and purchase airtime and other digital products.


Mobile money payments have transformed the payment landscape in Africa, allowing people to access financial services and transact more quickly and efficiently. The industry has grown significantly, with over 600 million registered mobile money accounts across the continent.


Mobile Money Payments In Africa – AZA Finance. https://azafinance.com/mobile-money-payments-in-africa/

Mobile financial services in Africa: Winning the battle for the customer. https://www.howwemadeitinafrica.com/mobile-financial-services-africa-winning-battle-customer/59830/

Dr PK Senyo, 2021 (Apr.18, 202), Ghana’s new mobile money rule could derail financial inclusion. But there are answers,  https://theconversation.com/ghanas-new-mobile-money-rule-could-derail-financial-inclusion-but-there-are-answers-158770,

Andersson-Manjang, S. /Naghavi, N. (2021), State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money 2021, https://www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/GSMA_State-of-the-Industry-Report-on-Mobile-Money-2021_Full-report.pdf,

Donovan, K., Chapter 4: Mobile Money for financial inclusion, https://web.worldbank.org/archive/website01523/WEB/IMAGES/IC4D_2-4.PDF,

About the Writer

Text Box: Ebenezer ASUMANG, ||Development Communicator|Green/Sustainable Finance|Digital Banking|| 
                                                        Email: ebenezer@worldinspiringnetwork.org

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