Announcing the results of the 2011 Global Mobile Money Adoption Survey
The Mobile Money for the Unbanked,
Date Posted: Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Today the mobile money for the unbanked programme is releasing the results of the 2011 Global Mobile Money Adoption Survey. The survey is, we believe, the most comprehensive attempt to measure the extent of customer adoption of mobile money for the unbanked ever undertaken. In exchange for a guarantee of confidentiality and access to customized benchmarking reports, 52 operators and other service providers from 35 countries provided MMU with detailed operational data about their deployments, including the number of registered and active customers. The full report is now available for download, and over the next few weeks, we’ll be discussing some of the main findings of this survey. Today, we look at the total number of mobile money customer—registered and active—around the world.
The service providers in our sample reported having 60 million customers as of June 2011, a number which excludes customers who transact “over the counter” without having registered. Eleven services reported having more than 1 million registered customers in June 2011; together, these eleven services accounted for 85% of the registered customers reported in our survey, with a long tail of 41 services reporting the other 15%.
Figure 1: Number of registered customer accounts by service, June 2011
Of these customers, only 6 million were considered active, although since Safaricom and SMART declined to provide the number of active users of M-PESA and SMART Money, this number understates the true total. Only two deployments reported more than 1 million active customers.
How should we interpret these numbers? On the one hand, they fall far short of recent estimates of the size of the global mobile money user base. Berg Insight reckoned that there were 133 million mobile money users in emerging markets in 2010, for example. It is also sobering that a small number of deployments have signed up the majority of mobile money customers, with the remainder struggling to achieve any meaningful scale—scale which is obligatory if the mobile money business model is to be sustainable.
On the other hand, our survey also revealed very rapid growth in the number of mobile money customers—and especially, in the number of active mobile money customers—around the world. Between the beginning and the middle of 2011, the annual growth rates for the number of registered and active users were 49% and 86% respectively. Even compared to the mobile industry overall, itself a high-growth industry, this is very rapid growth.
Download the full report here. In our next post, we’ll dig deeper into the widely divergent fortunes of different operators in mobile money.