M-Pesa Loses Ground on Person-to-Person Money Transfers (UPDATED: NO THEY AREN’T)



UPDATE: The article below was based on figures provided by the Communications Authority of Kenya reporting on the mobile money transactions during the first quarter of 2018. The figures reported by CA seem to have been erroneous and the matter has now been resolved with the help from Safaricom. 

Kenya is the epicentre of mobile money technology and we have seen a lot of innovation around the same stretching from payments to quick loans. Safaricom being the godfather with M-Pesa, have always taken the lead when it comes to revenue and market share. The statement ‘M-Pesa is King’ holds water but does not tell the full story.

According to the latest report by Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) shows that M-Pesa still commands a large market share compared to the competition with a whopping 23.6 million subscribers up against 3.3 million on Airtel money and 1.9 million on Equitel.

However, the narrative we are going to tell is a different one, one that left us wondering what exactly happened. A scrutiny of the numbers by CA reveals that Safaricom’s M-Pesa users have transacted over 2.4 Trillion shillings over the past three months, impressive right?

Well, let’s shift our attention to person-to-person transactions, presumably the number one reason for mobile money. CA records that M-Pesa users have moved over 538 million shillings amongst themselves a far cry from the 424 billion they moved a similar period last year. Things, however, change when you look at Equitel’s numbers. 114 billion moved over the first three months of the year, followed closely by Airtel money users who moved 1.2 billion amongst themselves. Interestingly, in just two months of operation and with barely 34,000 subscribers, Telkom’s T-Kash users moved over 729 million shillings.

Mobile Money Transactions Q1 2018
Erroneous Figures
CA Report Mobile Money Q1 2018
Corrected Figures

These numbers tell a story of Kenyans using alternative services to send money to one another other than M-Pesa. Our theory is that people are using other mobile money services which offer lower or even no transaction fees to move larger amounts of money and M-Pesa has been left to handle what an insane person would call petty cash.

Despite the lower p2p transaction value, M-Pesa still has the highest value of mobile commerce transactions in shillings, inferring that without Lipa na M-Pesa, maybe the service would not be the giant that it is currently. Commerce transactions account for over 998 billion shillings transacted on M-Pesa, the highest amongst all mobile money services.

Kenyans are still using M-Pesa, there’s no doubt about that, what has changed is how they are using M-Pesa. A year ago, commerce and person-to-person transactions were toe to toe but things have changed and we are not sure whether to blame economic hard times or M-Pesa’s seemingly higher transaction charges.


  1. Is that figure correct? It went from Ksh. 492.6 billion(Oct. to Dec.) to Ksh. 538.2 million in just 3 months? I think you should contact CA to verify the accuracy of that figure.

Comments are closed.