Pandemic pushes international mobile money transactions to $1bn a month

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International mobile money transactions increased by 65% last year, with a total of US$12.7 billion transferred across borders during the year.

The industry processes $2 billion daily, with 300 million monthly active accounts. There are 310 live deployments of mobile money services in 96 countries.

The numbers come from the GSMA’s latest mobile money report, published today, which says that 1.2 billion of the world’s 7.8 billion people are now using the technology. But fewer women than men are using mobile money.

John Giusti, the GSMA’s chief regulatory officer, said: “This year’s report, however, found that across markets women are still 33% less likely than men to have a mobile money account. The GSMA and its members are committed to closing this gender gap by addressing the barriers that prevent women from accessing and using mobile financial services.”

The report notes that, in many markets, transaction limits were increased to allow more funds to flow through mobile money.

Additionally, as demand during the pandemic rose for non-physical payments, some regulators have classified mobile money agents and their supply chains as essential services. Over 50% of mobile money agents were continuously active throughout the pandemic, the report notes, which was crucial for service continuity and maintaining liquidity.

But the under-representation of women is a challenge. Many providers have committed to increasing the proportion of female customers, says the GSMA report. One example of an innovative approach to this is launching micro-entrepreneur products that can be used in markets where women represent the majority of vendors and customers.

“We see that mobile money is a powerful tool for expanding the financial inclusion of women in low- and middle-income countries,” said Giusti.