Mobile money platforms processed more than $1 trillion in transactions during 2021, with the number of registered accounts increasing 18 per cent year-on-year, the GSMA revealed in a report.

The industry organisation noted the $1 trillion figure was a record and was a 31 per cent year-on-year rise. By the end of 2021 the number of registered accounts reached 1.4 billion globally, with the average number of transactions per hour surpassing 1.5 million.

Its latest annual state of the industry report on mobile money highlighted services were active in 98 markets globally, with a total of 5.6 million agents.

The GSMA noted one of the key industry drivers for the increase in transactions was the merchant payments segment.

In a statement, GSMA head of mobile for development Max Cuvellier noted “2021 was the year mobile money started to really diversify to B2B services”.

“Beyond traditional person-to-person transactions, such as transferring money to family or friends, the industry is now central in helping small businesses operate more efficiently and serve their customers better”.

Although praising the progress of the sector and impact on financial inclusion in low- and middle-income countries, the GSMA report highlighted work still to do, with some countries having a significant gender gap in use of mobile financial services.

Barriers to further adoption include lack of access to a mobile handset, “a lack of awareness of mobile money and a deficit in perceived relevance, knowledge and skills,” the GSMA noted in a statement.

“Concerted action is required from policymakers, the private sector, donors and other stakeholders to learn from success stories, address the issue and ensure that existing gender inequalities are not further entrenched, especially in light of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.”