South Africa: Telcos Are Well Positioned to Capitalise On Their Huge Bet On Mobile Money


MTN is unbundling its fintech business - this and other investment activity in the sector suggest that for telcos, mobile payments is the growth opportunity of the decade.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

If 2020 and Covid-19 taught us anything, it is that the shift from cash to digital forms of payment is accelerating at a rate not seen before, and is set to continue. Last year, the number of registered mobile money accounts topped 1.2 billion, 548 million of which are in Africa. At the same time, the number of accounts that are active on a monthly basis topped 300 million, 159 million of which are in sub-Saharan Africa.

And while it took nearly a decade for the mobile industry to reach its first 100 million (active) mobile money accounts it took just more than five years to add another 200 million. These are some of the numbers included in the GSMA's latest "State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money".

Telecoms providers MTN, Vodacom and Airtel, sitting plumb in the middle of this opportunity, are beginning to reorganise themselves to capitalise further, and investors are paying attention.

"The opportunity in mobile money is massive...

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