M-Pesa hits 50m active users, cements place as largest mobile money platform in Africa

David Afolayan
Blockchain, Fintech and the Future of Banking by Austin Okere

Kenyan mobile money platform, M-pesa said it has hit the 50 million active users mark in Africa to cement its position as Africa’s largest mobile money platform. This was made known by the M-Pesa Africa managing director, Sitoyo Lopokoiyit in a statement to commemorate the milestone.

According to Sitoyo, “14 years ago, we launched M-Pesa to connect our customers to each other and to different opportunities. We are delighted to celebrate this remarkable milestone with our more than 50 million customers across the continent.”

Launched way back in 2007, M-Pesa (the ‘M’ stands for mobile and ‘Pesa’ is the Swahili word for money) has quickly grown to become the biggest mobile money platform in Africa and one of the biggest in the world.

Created by Kenyan telecom company, Safaricom and Vodafone Group, it originally started out as a platform for Kenyans to deposit, withdraw, transfer money and pay for goods and services easily with a mobile device.

According to Business Insider Africa, access to financial services and products in Kenya grew by an astonishing 56 per cent between 2006-2019 due to the availability of mobile money. M-Pesa has been credited with lifting at least two per cent of Kenyan households out of extreme poverty – so far.

Catering to over 40 million users, M-Pesa transacted over $1.37 billion in revenue in 202, the year ended March 2021.

M-pesa became truly indigenous in April last year when Safaricom and Vodacom acquired the M-Pesa platform from their UK parent firm Vodafone Plc to form a joint venture, M-Pesa Africa in 2019.

Safaricom and Vodacom to expand mPesa across Africa
Safaricom and Vodacom to expand mPesa across Africa

According to former CEO, Bob Collymore, the deal (estimated at about $13.4 million) will see both purchasing companies make significant savings from royalties they pay to Vodafone (about  2% of annual M-Pesa revenue) and expand the service to new African markets.

According to Safaricom, M-Pesa now has a network of partners that allows subscribers to send and receive money from about 200 countries and territories (especially in Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Lesotho, Ghana and Egypt).

The company launched the M-Pesa Super app in June to allow customers to send money to other mobile phone customers around East Africa.

The two telcos plan to grow M-Pesa beyond the existing markets as more than 500,000 businesses currently transact over £5 billion worth of services and sales of goods per month on the service. It seems the figures might not be all satisfactory for the investors as Vodacom was reported to be considering selling its stake about 4 months ago.

Analysts estimate M-Pesa’s valuation to be close to $3 billion.


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