Airtel Money, Bharti Airtel’s mobile money platform, had 3.5 million subscribers across Africa as of 31 March 2014 – an eye-catching 28 per cent increase from three months previously.
Airtel, India’s largest mobile operator, and which has operations across 17 African countries, disclosed the numbers as part of its consolidated Q4 results.
The total number of Airtel Money transactions in Africa increased 25.5 per cent, quarter-on-quarter, to reach 92 million. The total value of transactions rose by 28.6 per cent, to $2.2 billion, over the same period.
Among the Q4 highlights flagged up by Airtel was the launch of the first Airtel Money Visa Card in Kenya via a partnership with Chase Bank. The deal gave Airtel Money customers access to over 10,000 visa point of sales.
In a recent Mobile World Live interview with Manoj Kohli (pictured), CEO of international operations, he said the usage of mobile money in some African countries had “taken leaps over” India and Nigeria (two of Airtel’s largest markets).
According to Kohli, some mobile money services were seeing usage growth of 20-30 per cent every month.
What’s fostering growth, he argued, was the absence of a conventional banking infrastructure (which is not the case in India and Nigeria).
“These two markets are where the model is bank-led and not mobile company led,” he said. “Other markets [in Africa] it is mobile company led. We are growing it very well. Customers who are unbanked are picking up money transfer and payments very spontaneously.”