The State of Mobile Money in Africa 2024,it’s evolving use cases and a couple of tough questions

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The “GSMA State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money 2024″ was launched last week and this is review and my thoughts on the report.  

This detailed review delves deeper into the report’s findings, emphasizing the pivotal role mobile money plays in financial inclusion and economic development across various regions, with a particular focus on the contrasting dynamics between Africa and Asia compared to global trends.

Global Reach and Economic Impact

The report highlights the global proliferation of mobile money, with 1.75 billion registered accounts processing $1.4 trillion annually. This significant reach underscores mobile money’s role in fostering financial inclusion, particularly in regions where traditional banking infrastructure is limited. The economic impact is profound, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, where mobile money has contributed notably to GDP growth, evidencing the sector’s potential to drive economic advancement.

Dominance of Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa showcases a commanding lead in the mobile money sector, with its 548 million registered accounts constituting over 45% of the global total. In 2021 alone, the region saw mobile money transactions reach a staggering $701.4 billion. This dominance highlights the region’s success in leveraging mobile money to address the financial needs of its largely unbanked population, estimated at 57%. The innovative financial solutions provided, such as mobile-based savings, loans, and insurance, are not just filling the void where traditional banking services are scarce but are also setting a global standard for digital financial inclusion.

West Africa’s Mobile Money Boom: The report delves into West Africa’s ascension as a powerhouse in the mobile money sector. Countries like Nigeria, Ghana, and Senegal are at the forefront, driven by innovative regulatory approaches and the emergence of non-mobile-network-operator (MNO)-led services that foster competition and growth. This region’s approach contrasts with East Africa’s predominantly MNO-led model, illustrating the diversity in mobile money ecosystems across the continent.

Here’s a closer look at the data and trends underscoring West Africa’s burgeoning mobile money landscape:

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  1. Nigeria: As Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria has seen a significant uptick in mobile money usage following regulatory changes that allowed non-banks to offer mobile money services. By the end of 2021, Nigeria boasted over 15 million active mobile money accounts, a substantial increase from previous years, reflecting the country’s vast potential for mobile financial services penetration.
  2. Ghana: Ghana is often cited as a success story in mobile money, with more than 40% of the adult population actively using mobile money services as of 2021. The country processed over $70 billion in mobile money transactions in the same year, illustrating the deep integration of mobile money into the daily financial activities of Ghanaians.
  3. Senegal: In Senegal, mobile money has become a key financial service, with penetration rates continuing to climb. As of 2021, there were approximately 5 million mobile money accounts in Senegal, with the service reaching both urban and rural locales, significantly enhancing financial inclusion across the country.



Evolving Use Cases

The evolution of mobile money use cases is a critical aspect of the sector’s growth, signaling a shift from basic transactional functions to a more integrated financial tool that caters to a variety of user needs. The “GSMA State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money 2024” illuminates this transition, particularly emphasizing the remarkable growth in international remittances and merchant payments. These trends not only indicate changing consumer behavior but also suggest a broader acceptance and integration of mobile money into daily financial activities.

International Remittances

The surge in international remittances through mobile money is particularly noteworthy. Growing by a third to nearly $29 billion in 2023, this increase highlights mobile money’s expanding role in global financial transactions. This growth is partly driven by the diaspora populations who rely on mobile money to send funds back home efficiently and securely. The fact that a significant portion of this growth emanates from West Africa reflects the region’s rising prominence in the mobile money sector and its increasing connectivity to the global economy.

Mobile money has made international remittances more accessible and affordable, especially for populations in remote or underserved regions. The traditional remittance process can be cumbersome and costly, often involving high fees and requiring recipients to travel to a physical location to collect funds. Mobile money simplifies this process, enabling users to receive funds directly to their mobile wallets, thereby saving time and reducing costs.

Merchant Payments

The 14% increase in merchant payments through mobile money underscores a shift in consumer behavior. Customers are increasingly using mobile money for everyday transactions, paying for goods and services at a diverse range of merchants, from large retailers to small local vendors. This trend is facilitated by the growing network of merchants accepting mobile money, driven by its convenience, security, and efficiency.

The adoption of mobile money for merchant payments is transforming the retail landscape, particularly in emerging markets. It supports financial digitalization and promotes a cashless economy, which can enhance financial security and efficiency. For merchants, accepting mobile money payments can lead to increased sales, reduced cash handling risks, and access to new customer segments.

Beyond Traditional Use Cases

The evolution of mobile money use cases goes beyond just international remittances and merchant payments. Mobile money platforms are increasingly being used to disburse salaries, pay bills, and even provide access to financial products like loans and insurance. This expansion is enabling a more comprehensive financial ecosystem where users can manage multiple financial needs through a single platform.

For instance, mobile money is being leveraged for financial inclusion initiatives, where governments and NGOs use these platforms to disburse funds directly to beneficiaries’ mobile wallets. This approach ensures that aid reaches the intended recipients promptly and securely, reducing the potential for fraud or mismanagement.

Future Implications

The evolving use cases of mobile money have significant implications for financial inclusion, economic development, and the broader financial ecosystem. As mobile money platforms become more ingrained in daily financial activities, they have the potential to bring more people into the formal financial system, providing them with tools to manage their finances more effectively.

Moreover, the data generated from these expanded use cases can provide valuable insights into consumer behavior, economic trends, and financial needs. This information can help financial institutions, policymakers, and businesses to make informed decisions, tailor products and services, and drive economic growth.

In conclusion, the evolving use cases of mobile money are a testament to the sector’s dynamism and its potential to transform the financial landscape, especially in regions where traditional banking infrastructure is limited. As these trends continue to unfold, the impact of mobile money on global financial inclusion and economic development is likely to be profound and far-reaching.


Adjacent Financial Services

The foray into adjacent financial services marks a significant evolution in the mobile money ecosystem. Offering services like credit, savings, and insurance through mobile money platforms not only enhances their utility but also plays a critical role in extending financial inclusion to underserved populations. This evolution reflects the sector’s potential to morph into a comprehensive financial services provider.

Comparison: Africa vs Asia vs Global Trends

The comparison between Africa and Asia in the context of mobile money adoption and usage reveals distinct regional dynamics. While Africa leads in innovation and adoption, often due to the lack of alternative financial infrastructure, Asia’s mobile money ecosystem is more complementary to existing financial services. The global perspective underscores a shift towards recognizing mobile money as a versatile, essential financial tool.

Future Outlook

The future outlook for mobile money is incredibly promising, with the sector poised for exponential growth and further integration into the global financial ecosystem. This potential is driven by continuous technological advancements, evolving regulatory landscapes, and a deepening understanding of consumer needs, particularly in underserved markets.

Technological Advancements

The adoption of cutting-edge technologies is set to redefine the mobile money landscape. For instance, the integration of blockchain technology can offer enhanced security and transparency for transactions, potentially reducing fraud and building trust among users. The World Bank’s Global Findex Database 2021 highlighted that digital financial transactions are on the rise globally, with blockchain playing a pivotal role in this transformation.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are other technological frontiers that mobile money operators are exploring. These technologies can improve customer service through chatbots and predictive analytics, enhancing user experience and operational efficiency. According to Juniper Research, chatbot conversations are expected to deliver $11 billion in annual cost savings for banking and healthcare sectors by 2023, indicating the potential for cost reduction and efficiency improvement in the mobile money sector.

Regulatory Evolution

Regulatory frameworks play a crucial role in the growth of mobile money. Proactive and forward-thinking regulations can stimulate innovation, ensure user protection, and foster a competitive market. For example, the adoption of e-KYC (electronic Know Your Customer) regulations in countries like India has significantly reduced the onboarding cost for new customers, contributing to a surge in mobile wallet adoption. The Reserve Bank of India reported a 50% increase in mobile wallet transactions in 2020 following the implementation of e-KYC regulations.

Moreover, regulators are increasingly recognizing the importance of interoperability between different financial service providers to enhance the utility and reach of mobile money services. The GSMA, in its Mobile Money Programme, advocates for interoperability as a means to accelerate the convenience and inclusivity of mobile financial services.

Market Growth and Inclusion

The potential for market growth is immense, especially in emerging economies where traditional banking infrastructure is limited. The GSMA’s report predicts that mobile money accounts will continue to grow, reaching 1.2 billion by 2025. This growth is particularly significant in Africa, where mobile penetration is high, but banking penetration remains low. The African Development Bank reports that while over 80% of Africans have a mobile phone, only 43% have a bank account, indicating a substantial market for mobile money growth.

Consumer-Centric Innovations

Future innovations in mobile money will likely focus on enhancing the user experience and offering more consumer-centric products. This could include personalized financial products, integrated financial management tools, and enhanced customer engagement strategies. For instance, Safaricom’s M-PESA, a leader in the mobile money space, has been expanding its suite of services to include micro-loans and health insurance, catering to the specific needs of its user base.


The future of mobile money is bright, with the sector set to drive significant advancements in financial inclusion, economic development, and consumer empowerment. By leveraging technological innovations, navigating regulatory landscapes adeptly, and staying attuned to consumer needs, mobile money operators can continue to expand their impact, reaching more users with a broader range of services. As mobile money becomes increasingly integrated into users’ financial lives, it will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of global finance, particularly in regions where the need for inclusive financial services is most acute.

Thought-Provoking Questions

On New Mobile Money Use Cases

  1. Future-Proofing: How can mobile money services stay ahead of the curve, anticipating future digital payment needs and integrating them proactively into their platforms?
  2. Incentive Models: What innovative incentive models can be developed to encourage users to adopt new use case
  3. Peer-to-Peer Lending: How can mobile money platforms support peer-to-peer lending networks, providing a secure and accessible way for users to lend to or borrow from each other?

On Competition and Non Telco Players

  1. Collaboration and Competition: How can fintech companies collaborate with or compete against telcos to innovate in the mobile money sector and offer differentiated services that appeal to a broader user base?
  2. Bank-led Models: What strategies can traditional banks and financial institutions adopt to leverage their expertise in financial services and potentially outperform telcos in delivering superior mobile money experiences?
  3. Tech Giants’ Entry: How might the entry of global technology giants into the mobile money market reshape the competitive landscape and challenge the dominance of telcos?
  4. Regulatory Environment: What changes in the regulatory environment could level the playing field, allowing non-telco players to have a more significant impact in the mobile money ecosystem?
  5. Innovation in Service Delivery: What innovative approaches can non-telco players adopt in service delivery that could set a new standard in user experience and efficiency in mobile money services?

Dethroning Cash as King:

  1. What comprehensive strategies do mobile money providers need to implement to convince cash-reliant businesses and consumers of the benefits of transitioning to digital transactions?
  2. What incentives and educational programs can be most effective in accelerating the adoption of mobile money over cash, particularly in rural and underserved areas?
  3. How can mobile money platforms ensure such robustness and reliability that users perceive them as preferable to cash, even in regions with intermittent internet connectivity or less technological infrastructure?