Kenya Leads in Mobile Remittances Globally, WorldRemit Says

NAIROBI, Kenya, Capital Markets in Africa: Kenyans living abroad sent one million mobile-phone money transactions through transfer company WorldRemit over the past five years, the most of 50 nations where the services are used.

Remittances are the leading source of foreign exchange in East Africa’s biggest economy and hit a record of $156.1 million in June from $146.8 million in the previous month, according to Central Bank of Kenya data.

London-based WorldRemit processes 450,000 transactions every month, 50,000 of them transfers to Kenya, the company’s head of public relations, Ben Leong, said Wednesday in an interview in the capital, Nairobi. Over 90 percent of the transfers to the nation are channeled to mobile-money accounts with providers such as Safaricom Ltd.’s M-Pesa and Bharti Airtel’s Airtel Money, he said. Customers can also send transfers direct to bank accounts and agents, with average transactions of 13,000 shillings ($128).

“Kenyans come from a country where sending mobile money is second nature and we’re now seeing Kenyans at the forefront of adopting mobile-money remittances,” Senior Mobile Analyst Alix Murphy said during the interview. “As it gains in popularity, mobile money will become the method of choice for receiving remittances in many countries across the world.”

Around three million Kenyans live abroad, with large communities in countries such as the U.K., U.S. and Canada, according to WorldRemit. It began offering remittance services to the $61 billion economy in March 2011 and customers can send cash to 32 mobile-phone networks in 24 nations.

Investors in the company include Accel Partners LP and Technology Crossover Ventures LP, which holds stakes in Facebook Inc., Spotify Ltd., Netflix Inc. and Slack Technologies Inc.

There are more than over 400 million registered mobile-money remittance accounts worldwide, 24.8 million of them held by Kenyans by the end of March. In the first three months of this year, there were 348.8 million transactions valued at 840.3 billion shillings.


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