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Mobile money: is Europe lagging? Is America ahead? Is China the leader?

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There are lies, darned lies and statistics. This came to my mind when I saw a headline that 70% of the $1 trillion transacted by mobile telephones globally were taking place in Africa, according to the GSMA (Global System for Mobile Communications Association). I know that this is not true as trillions are being transacted in China alone, but hey, it still made interesting reading.

The value of Africa’s mobile money transactions edged up 39% to $701.4 billion in 2021 from $495 billion in 2020, highlighting the future of African banking is mobile. GSMA’s figures released on Apr. 21, show the volume of mobile money transactions jumped 23% to 36.7 billion in 2021 from 27.5 billion in 2020. In the review period, registered mobile wallets in Africa topped 621 million, a 17% increase from 562 million captured in 2020. There are now over 184 million active mobile money wallets on the continent compared to 161 million accounts just over a year before.

It also prompted me to look once more at the stats for America and China.

The figures vary, but I liked this chart from Oberlo which shows that Americans spend almost half a trillion dollars with mobile payments P2P.

The total transaction value from P2P mobile payments is expected at $478.87 billion in 2021, 20.8 percent higher than in 2020. The convenience of this payment method means analysts are expecting its transaction value to continue increasing in the coming years and reach $612.23 billion by 2023. 


Americans use mobile money less than Africans?

Hmmm. Are they behind the curve? After all, Chinese consumers spend USD$45 trillion a year on mobile (that’s a lot more than the GSMA estimate of one trillion).

Source: China Internet Watch

The third-party mobile payment transactions in China increased to 74.0 trillion yuan ($11 trillion)  in the first quarter of 2021, a year-on-year increase of 39.1%, according to data from iResearch. iReserarch forecasts China's third-party mobile payment market would reach 74.2 trillion yuan in the second quarter of 2021.

According to various other stats, Latin America will spend almost $70 billion using mobile telephones this year …

Source: Statista

And Europe? Well, Europe seems to be lagging behind if you believe the stats quoted by The FinTech Times:

The transaction value of the European mobile payments jumped 2.5 times in the last three years, rising from $17.4 million in 2017 to over $48 million in 2020. By the end of 2023, this figure is forecast to hit more than $111.4 million.

Just by quoting and gathering these stats, you can see that the analytics of mobile payments is sketchy, patchy and wrong. My guess is that the numbers are much higher in Europe – maybe talk billions rather than millions – and that China is clearly the world leader in this space.

Anyways, I’m sure you can find your own statistics to refute or change the context of the figures I’ve quoted above. After all, there’s lies, darned lies and statistics.


Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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