Kenyans Spend Trillions Buying Goods and Services Online Amid a Challenging E-Commerce Space


EcommerceThe growth of e-commerce services in Kenya, while not necessarily returning profits to vendors, is something most people can see. In spite of the fact that the space has been unforgiving to the likes of Jumia that is still operating locally amid shutdowns in Cameroon, Rwanda, and Tanzania, and Safaricom’s Masoko that has been stripped down to an extension of the carrier’s Shop that sells phones and their accessories (and nothing else), other tens of players have been doing okay, having been supported by Kenya’s young population that prefers ordering stuff online in place of making a physical visit to a store.

According to the Communications Authority (CA), Kenyans performed 425.3 million mobile commerce transactions between July and September 2019. That is an impressive number by any standards. The operations imply that KES 1.6 trillion was spent to purchase goods and services online in the quarter under review.

Mobile money – MPESA rules

In the same breath, the CA took a different approach in the manner it reports mobile money metrics. This time around, the ICT regulator excluded Equity Money from its numbers, citing the product is a mobile banking service as opposed to a mobile wallet service offered by telecom companies. To this end, there was a marked drop in the number of mobile money subscriptions, bearing in mind that Equitel has a substantial number of customers.

Nevertheless, the quarter reported 31.2 million mobile money users, as well as 235,168 agents that serve these people.

As has been the case, millions of transactions were performed over the period that were valued at KES 1.7 trillion. The CA says that person to person transfers were valued at KES 650.0 billion.

M-PESA, unsurprisingly, leads the pack with 31.2 million subscriptions – save for insignificant additions from Airtel Money, and T-Kash.

Poor T-Kash

Speaking of T-Kash, the Telkom Kenya-owned mobile money service is visibly struggling with near 28K active subscriptions that are actually the same as its agency network. That is an embarrassing scenario that will hardly be improved even in the case of an already approved merger between the carrier and Airtel Kenya.

Telkom has not been a good job in publicizing T-Kash after integrating the product with M-PESA that saw reduced transaction fees.