South Africa-based MTN Group confirmed the rising importance to its business of mobile money by announcing it now has more than five million subscribers to m-money services across its footrpint, according to the company’s first-half financial results. It is licensed to offer mobile money services in a total of 12 markets. As of June 30 2011, MTN had 5.1 million registered mobile money subscribers with Uganda and Ghana as its two most significant markets. Each country accounted for 37 percent of its total mobile money base, it said. This is an interesting statistic given neither rank as MTN’s most important markets in terms of mobile subscribers or revenue which are Nigeria and South Africa. The former is expected to launch mobile money services shortly with a local partner, it says. In fact, MTN Nigeria has previously said it will launch its Nigerian m-money service this month with a local partner called GTBank.
Elsewhere in its financial results, MTN showed strong growth in overall subscriber numbers but fell short of analyst estimates on its financials because of currency movements and falls in airtime and subscription revenue. Net income in the half-year grew to Rs9.45 billion (US$1.3 billion) from Rs8.1 billion and revenues increased one percent to Rs56.5 billion, although airtime and subscription revenue dropped by 2.8 percent. However, subscriber numbers grew by 7.5 percent although this was slower than the operator’s full-year target of a 22 percent increase. The operator currently offers services in 21 African and Middle Eastern markets.