China, Kenya, and Ghana are the Leading Countries in Mobile Money Usage Globally, Says Latest Report

A new report has revealed that mobile money finance and its potential in Africa is huge and growing.

The report estimates the potential market for banks in Sub-Saharan Africa at $500 billion, nearly all of it in the form of person-to-person (P2P) payments.

The opportunity pre-dominantly lies in mobile payments that provide access to new products and services across a wide variety of industries such as healthcare as a service, education, energy, and transport among others.

“As African economies evolve, the mobile device will become the payment vehicle of first resort. Global momentum in the mobile paymetns space could return to Africa, especially if financial institutions take the lead,” says the report.

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A listing of the top three countries globally with the highest mobile payment usage in the world form the report stands as follows:

  1.  China
  2. Kenya
  3. Ghana

The report, compiled by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) estimates that the total value global mobile financial services in 2020 is between $15 – $20 trillion per year.

The report is quite interesting considering that despite the lower smartphone penetration in Kenya and Ghana compared to China, mobile money payments in these two countries account for a huge percentage of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as shown below:

  • Kenya – 87% of GDP
  • Ghana – 82% of GDP
  • Rest of Africa – less than 50% of GDP

The report says:

“Kenya and Ghana, with their relatively mature mobile payments sectors, account for much of the business in Africa. In most other countries in the region, less than 50% of financial transactions occur through mobile payments.”

Currently, over 400 million consumers across Sub-Sharan Africa (SSA) use mobile payments with the figure expected to rise to about 750 million, two thirds of the continent’s population, within the next 5 years.


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Below are more stats from the report (without considering the impact of Covid-19):


  • 400 million customers
  • $300 bilion in mobile money transactions
  • $20 billion in mobile banking fees
  • $3.5 billion in mobile payments revenue


  • 750 million customers
  • $3 trillion in transaction volumes
  • $30 billion in yearly revenues
  • $20 billion in mobile payments revenue

The mobile wallet model has been shown to be particularly successful for consumer-to-consumer transactions in many African countries that include:

  • Ghana
  • Cote D’Ivoire
  • Mali
  • Senegal

The most successful implementations of the mobile wallet model rely on a diversified income stream as the example below shows:

  • 40% from cash withdrawals charges
  • 35% from P2P transactions fees (charged to sender)
  • 25% from persont to merchant transaction fees (charged to merchant)

In order to scale the mobile payments business, the report recommends African banks and players to focus on two priorities concurrently:

  • Use Cases – These are descriptions of solutions that tackle specific fundamental customer pain-points. These are especially useful in the early stages of an offering with the best target strategy being the unbanked or underbanked with innovative offerings. The Ghana mobile payments market has emerged from companies packaging a use case around sharing money with family members
  • Capabilities – These are front and back office tools and practices allowing banks to scale rapidly, gain critical mass, and introduce new services to customers. Players can tailor their offerings to the competitive situation in their countries. Lighting, for example, represents 15% of a typical Afrian household’s income. By collaborating with companies that can deliver these services, who would otherwise be competitors, players can develop a solar energy financing structure to produce and make available low-cost solar panels. This has already become quite popular in competitive market like Kenya

In order to tap into this opportunity, the report recommends the following:

  • Selecting a market with latent demand – where there is extensive mobile phone penetration with few sophisticated services
  • Seeking markets with favorable regulatory regimes
  • Selecting markets with strong network of sales agents
  • Seeking markets with established and well-designed ecosystems of other players

African countries are welcoming more mobile services investments, and ongoing improvements in business environments and governance, in addition to a young, and fast growing population, are some of the facts that are leading to significant opportunities in the Africa’s mobile payment space.

Interestingly, the report also points to the fact that financial institutions can play a huge role in opening up significant revenue streams in the space. It points to the fact that while mobile transactions are unlikely to be a winer-take-all business dominated by one or two companies, interoperability and friendly regulations along those lines will see more players come in with leading retail banks in many markets capturing only 20% or more of the mobile wallet market if offerings are designed strategically.

Speed is key in this industry and the report recommends players to move as quickly as possible to position themselves as a necessity.



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