Mobile Haiti

GSMA Look at How Many People Actually Use Mobile Money?

GSMA, Payments, Mobile Money, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, East Africa, Unbanked

GSMA survey suggests that mobile money for the unbanked has grown nearly 100 per cent in a year

There’s a worrying amount of the population who don’t have any of their money stored in banks. After the recent financial crisis, you couldn’t really blame them for not trusting those institutions. But, while these people are avoiding delving into the world of banks, they are making the most of mobile money services. And in GSMA’s 2013 report on the State of Mobile Financial Services, new numbers around how many people actually use mobile money services have been released.

While it’s practically impossible to know fully how many people are unbanked and how many people make use of mobile money who are unbanked, one good measure is the number of people who own mobile money accounts. Unsurprisingly, the number of these accounts have risen exponentially in the last year as more and more mobile wallet and mobile payment services have taken off over 2013. The GSMA report reveals that in 2013 there were over 203 million mobile money accounts registered worldwide. That’s a 88% increase from 2012′s 108 million.

Of those 203 million accounts, 61m of them had been used within the last 90 days, and 37m in the last 30 days. Still, it seems that the biggest issue is keeping customers active and using the mobile money services as – according to GSMA’s research – only 29.9 per cent of registered accounts were active in June 2013.

It seems that most customers are happily aware of the service, but have no idea about how they could benefit from it themselves. It seems to be a major cultural shift when the majority of a nation still relies on cash.

Below is an image from GSMA that shows a breakdown of mobile money registered and active accounts by region:

GSMA Registered customer accounts mobile money map


It’s worth noting that more people use mobile money in Sub-Saharan Africa than have Facebook accounts – nearly twice as much. East Africa also accounts for a large amount of mobile money accounts worldwide, holding 34 per cent.

Interestingly, South Asia has a huge chunk of mobile money transactions, with 10.5 million active accounts. However, 15 million unregistered users had performed a mobile money transactions “over-the-counter” in June 2013. This shows that lots of people actually use mobile money even if they don’t actually hold an account with a specific service. Over-the-counter transactions allows for merchants to accept payments from customers by getting them to pay via mobile without registering, a rather popular approach.

It appears that there were 17.3 million unregistered mobile money users in June 2013, with four mobile money services actually having more than 1 million registered users. GSMA also reported that it doesn’t seem that these numbers of unregistered users is slowing, growing 102 per cent year on year – indicating that more people are enjoying the freedoms of paying via mobile without the arduous task of signing up. Perhaps an indication that they still don’t quite see the benefits of a mobile money service?

We already know that South Asia has an awful lot of unregistered users making mobile money transactions, but it actually turns out that 87.6 per cent of the worlds unregistered users lie within this region.

In total, the GSMA report tallied up 37 million mobile money accounts active in June 2013. Alongside this were another 17 million unregistered users who had made a mobile money transaction during June 2013 too. This means that it’s safe to say that there are around 54 million unbanked people actively using mobile money transactions around the world.

What do you make of the GSMA’s survey results?


[Image: Gates Foundation - Flickr]

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