CIO East Africa (Nairobi)

3 July 2014

Kenya: Tanzania Ahead of Kenya in Use of Mobile Money

Tanzania is ahead of Kenya when it comes to mobile money use, despite the fact that Kenyans have been using mobile money solutions for 7 years.

Tanzania was ranked ahead of Kenya in terms of mobile money systems as 44% of adults in Tanzania used some form of mobile money in 2013--ahead of Kenya's 38%. M-Pesa is now just one of 242 mobile-enabled e-money providers operating in 89 countries, boasting 203 million mobile money accounts between them, according to the GSM Association. The GSMA is a trade association of mobile carriers. The GSMA states that about 61 million accounts were active in the 90 days to June 2013 when the study was done.

Last December alone, Tanzanians conducted 99.9 million transactions worth a combined total of Tshs 3.1 trillion ($1.8 billion), not a simple feat considering that only 14% of Tanzanian adults use banks, less than half the rate in Kenya, and on a par with Zambia towards the bottom of the table.

The GSMA further notes that mobile-money accounts now outnumber bank accounts in nine African countries, namely Cameroon, DRC, Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Mobile money relies on, Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), a simple, text-based data-transfer protocol used on mobile networks. And it is being used for everything from day-to-day transactions to tax payments, and from insurance to savings.

Tanzania is also ahead of Kenya in that the country has gone way beyond simple money transfer, with a basic mobile phone in the country now being used for a whole range of financial services.

According to Leo Mirani; a writer for Quartz, an online magazine, mobile money is getting more traction faster in Tanzania than in Kenya due to it being used for more than just its primary function of sending and receiving money. "Mobile money isn't much if all it's being used for is money transfer. Businesses should be able to accept mobile money payments--all they would need is a mobile phone," writes Mirani. "But integrating mobile payments into business accounting can be a hassle. And several mobile money providers restrict the service to within their own networks, so you can't pay someone who uses a different service."

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