Competition takes toll on mobile money agents’ profits

NAIROBI, KENYA: The huge number of mobile money agents may have played a significant role in growing the mobile money in Kenya but the sheer numbers are also the reason the local agents are making less than their counterparts in the East Africa region.

A new report shows mobile money agents in Kenya make a monthly median profit of ShSh6,000 ($70), which is Sh2,000 less than what their Ugandan counterparts make.

This is despite the mobile money industry in Kenya being more mature compared to Uganda and the larger East Africa where the amounts moved through mobile money are still low compared to Kenya.

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Mobile money users total 27 million in Kenya compared to Uganda, which had 12 million mobile money users by the end of last year, while there were 10 million in Tanzania.

“The report finds that across East Africa, Kenyan agents generate the highest number of transactions per agent, but the lowest amount of profits in the region.

Surprisingly, Kenyan agents earn a lower median profit per month ($70) than both Tanzania ($95) and Uganda ($78),” said the Agent Network Accelerator (ANA) Kenya country report.

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NEGATIVE IMPACT

“With new agents consistently joining the market, competition is having a negative impact on profits and driving existing agents in having to expand their business outside digital finance to supplement their income.”

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The report by The Helix Institute of Digital Finance has been scheduled for launch tomorrow.

It also notes the agency banking model by local commercial banks could play a part in lifting the profits for mobile money agents.

MIBILE NETWORKS

There are more than 93 000 mobile money agents in Kenya, according to the Communications Commission of Kenya, and 26 million mobile money subscribers across the four mobile network operators in Kenya.

 Safaricom has a substantial chunk of both the agents (81 025) and customers (19.3 million).

Mobile money agents are largely credited for the success of mobile money transfer services in country, having made the services available to millions of Kenyans who previously did not have access to financial services.

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