Betting craze lifts Kenya's mobile money to 20% growth
The volume of cash moving through Kenya’s mobile money transfer platforms grew by a fifth in the first six months of 2016, powered by increased uptake of mobile phone-based gaming, reports Business Daily citing industry data. A total KES 1.59 trillion moved through the mobile platforms in the first six months of the year, according to Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) data, signaling that consumers in East Africa’s largest economy are on course to surpassing 2015’s full-year record of KES 2.81 trillion. This means an average of KES 220.4 billion is moving on mobile money platforms every month compared to KES 186.4 billion per month in a similar period in 2015.
Telecoms operators said transactions to bookmakers have added impetus to mobile money’s steady rise since it was first launched in Kenya nine years ago. The betting industry has emerged as a major player in the mobile money industry alongside retail payments, peer-to-peer transfers, and diaspora remittances, according to telecoms operators.
Kenya now has more than a dozen betting and gambling platforms and the list has continued to grow in recent months as investors rush in to capitalise on the growing popularity of bookmaking in the East African nation. Mobile-based sports betting and gambling has continued to grow, aided by the ease of placing bets online or through SMS and paying via mobile money platforms such as M-Pesa and Airtel Money. Airtel Kenya partnered with one of the betting firms in March, offering gamblers free deposit services to their betting wallets as well as free withdrawals when transferring winnings to their Airtel Money wallet.
Users, however, pay a fee when withdrawing cash from Airtel Money. About five million Kenyans have taken up mobile-based gambling — mostly sports betting and lotteries — according to data from the Betting Control and Licensing Board, the industry regulator. The increasing appetite to gamble from the comfort of one’s house or office pushed up the number of mobile money transactions by more than a third to 708.6 million deals from 518.2 million in the first half of 2015.