Dar es Salaam — A total of Sh9.5 trillion was transacted through the mobile money system in Tanzania in December 2019 as the platform gains popularity in the country's endeavour to move into a cashless society.
The money - transacted via M-Pesa, Tigo Pesa, Airtel Money, Halo Pesa, Ezy Pesa and TTCL's T-Pesa in December - was 3.9 percent (or Sh355.582 billion) more than the level that was attained in November 2019.
Vodacom's M-Pesa - which held a subscription market share of 39 percent in December 2019 - commanded a 56.21 percent pie of the transacted amounts, according to the latest report by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA).
M-Pesa subscribers moved a total of Sh5.3 trillion last December.
With a Sh2.2 trillion pie of the Sh9.5 trillion, TigoPesa came second while Airtel Money came third with transactions worth Sh1.6 trillion.
The total number of mobile money accounts rose to 25.864 million in December 2019, up from 24.263 million in November 2019.
The total number of voice telecoms subscriptions rose to 47.76 million in December, from 45.659 million in September.
However, there are fears that the benefits could be reversed as millions of subscribers have not managed to biometrically register their Sim cards.
In May last year, TCRA issued new customer registration guidelines in which telecommunications operators were directed to use the National Identification Number (Nin) issued by the National Identification Authority (Nida) as the only legally accepted IDs.
With the deadline for bearing non-biometrically registered Sim cards from accessing communication signals set for January 20, 2020, the telecommunication firms lost millions of subscribers who had not had their Sim cards biometrically registered by the deadline.
TCRA is barring non-biometrically registered Sim cards in phases. The Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange-listed Vodacom said in a statement that was deposited with the stock market regulator that it had a total of 1.7 million of its subscribers barred. By January 31, 2020, the firm said, five million of its customers remained non-biometrically registered.
This comes at a time when analysts are projecting that Tanzania's mobile money market will grow to new heights come the year-2024.
The market stood at $45.5 billion (Sh104.9 trillion) in 2018, according to 'Tanzania Mobile Money Market: Industry Trends, Share, Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast 2019-2024' by IMARC Group.
"The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of the value is estimated to be 28.7 percent during 2019-2024," the report reads in part.
The report also says that the mobile money platform is slowly becoming a payment method in various money transactions, replacing the age-old cash system.
"Mobile money is currently beyond simple money transfers. People are now accessing, paying or selling various financial services such as microloans, mobile insurance and hospitalization through it," the report goes on to say.
Financial Sector Deepening Trust executive director Sosthenes Kewe says the future is bright - following the current growth in mobile phone subscriptions, mobile money users and internet penetration.
TCRA put internet penetration at 46 percent in 2019, when users reached 25.79 million. Mobile subscribers grew by 85 percent, to 47.76 million, and mobile money subscriptions reached 25.86 million.
"We expect ten million new users of mobile telephony by 2024. This will be driven by current transformation of business transactions between traders and individuals or government," Mr Kewe stated.
He added that the mobile money market will continue to shine as the government and financial institutions insist on digital payments.
"Banks are transforming their physical footprints to mobile banking. Most utility bills like water and power are currently paid via mobile money," he said.