It looks like the mobile money service that helped to make Safaricom the dominant player in Kenya is making reasonable headway in Ethiopia too.
The operator’s 2023/2024 half year results reveal that M-Pesa, Africa's largest fintech platform, has registered 1.2 million members in Ethiopia since the mobile money service started in mid-August.
As a number of news outlets point out, only 35% of Ethiopians are financially included. Thus, Safaricom’s vision is to deepen financial inclusion and promote a cash-lite economy in Ethiopia.
And so far it is succeeding. As Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa says: “We see more opportunities with M-Pesa and mobile data, though coming off a small base. We are particularly impressed with the usage levels in mobile data. Such levels were only realized in Kenya after close to ten years of operations.”
Transaction values have risen to US$288 million since the company's inception. The service has also been adopted by 23,000 M-Pesa agents and 12,000 businesses. Of course it should also be noted that competitor Ethio Telecom’s rival service Telebirr is still some way ahead, passing 34 million users in July.
This news follows hard on the heels of some recent agreements designed to extend the reach of the M-Pesa service in Ethiopia. In late October M-Pesa partnered with Zemen Bank in a collaboration designed to establish a strong network of agencies and offer advanced mobile banking solutions.
Going forward, all M-Pesa agents and customers across Ethiopia will be able to deposit and withdraw cash at any Zemen Bank branch. In addition, Zemen Bank customers can easily manage their finances using Zemen Bank's mobile banking services through USSD and a mobile app.
A similar partnership was announced in August with Abay Bank.