Kenyans transacted Sh1.7 trillion over their phones in the quarter through September 2017, a 54.5 percent increase from a similar period last year as subscribers increasingly used mobile money to pay for goods and services.
Data from the Communications Authority (CA) shows that the value of mobile commerce transactions grew significantly faster than person-to-person transfers.
While the value of mobile commerce jumped 60 percent, person-to-person transfers grew 14.7 percent in comparison to a similar period last year.
Measuring against the previous quarter, the value of total mobile transactions grew 36 percent.
These levels of growth were unexpected given the overarching economic sluggishness during the elections period.
“Mobile money transfer services exhibited an upward trend during the quarter under review compared to the previous quarter despite the prolonged electioneering period which slowed down business activities in most sectors,” writes the CA.
Fast growth of mobile commerce reflects increased acceptance of mobile money as a form of payment by businesses across the country and is also associated with the rise of e-commerce in Kenya.
The value of mobile commerce transactions is expected to rise even further in the coming year as companies innovate in payments and with the expansion of the online shopping space.
Safaricom , Kenya’s largest telecom, recently moved heavily into e-commerce, launching its own online shop — Masoko. However, commentators have argued that payment services in Kenya still remain tedious for most online shoppers.
Safaricom’s M-Pesa service and Equitel were the only mobile services that recorded growth in the value of transactions on a year-on-year basis.
Airtel Money saw the value of its transactions fall to Sh1.2 billion from Sh10.8 billion in September 2016 on the back of falling subscriptions.
Telkom Kenya earlier this year scrapped its mobile money service and is currently internally testing out a new platform before launching it in the market.