More than 30 million people around the world carried out mobile money transactions last June, according to figures from the GSMA, with sub-Sahara Africa leading the way in uptake of the nascent technology.
According to evidence from 78 mobile money deployments in 49 countries, compiled by the wireless trade group, the 30 million people carried out more than 224 million handset-based transactions worth $4.6 billion during the month of June 2012 alone.
This exceeds the 196.3 million transactions performed by customers of electronic payments giant PayPal on average each month during the third quarter.
And the study shows that the mobile money industry is growing at an unparalleled rate, driven by the developing world. There are 150 live services for the unbanked, 41 of which were launched in 2012. In addition, the industry is also becoming competitive, with 40 markets now having at least two different services available.
The report identifies six services with more than one million active customer accounts, three of which passed the milestone in the last 12 months. There are 56.9 million registered customers in sub-Saharan Africa and in June 2012, there were twice as many mobile money users as Facebookers in the region.
In terms of geographical spread, more than half of all countries in sub-Saharan Africa have live deployments and 37% of the 166 mobile networks operators in the region have already launched mobile money.
The rise of these services means that there are now more mobile money accounts than bank accounts in Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania and Uganda, and more mobile money agent outlets than bank branches in at least 28 countries. With over 520,000 registered agent outlets, there are now as many mobile money sites as Western Union points of sale.
Furthermore, the total value of mobile money transactions is worth a significant proportion of some countries' overall wealth - equivalent to more than 60% of GDP in Kenya last June, more than 30% in Tanzania, and 20% in Uganda.
Chris Locke, MD, GSMA mobile for development, says: "As the mobile money industry is maturing, we can expect to see both the social and financial benefits of mobile money increase and will continue to track this fantastic progress."
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