Safaricom has revealed in its financial statements for the half-year ending September that its mobile money service, M-Pesa, holds deposits amounting to Sh273.9 billion, establishing the telecom giant as a major player in the financial services market.
This disclosure, the first of its kind, indicates a growth of Sh74.9 billion from the end of March when the funds stood at Sh199 billion. Following Safaricom’s acquisition of M-Pesa Holding Company Limited, the entity responsible for the cash behind the mobile money service, from Vodafone Group Plc, the telco now boasts a deposit base nearly equivalent to that of Stanbic Bank Kenya.
Despite having a larger customer base, Safaricom’s M-Pesa primarily serves personal transfers and payments rather than long-term deposits, explaining its relatively smaller deposit base compared to traditional banks. The telecom company has the largest client base in the country, with 32.1 million active M-Pesa customers, surpassing competitors such as Equity Bank Kenya and Co-operative Bank of Kenya.
While regulatory caps have limited the use of mobile money platforms for deposits, Safaricom earns more from transactions compared to banks, with M-Pesa revenue growing 16.5 percent to Sh66.2 billion in the half-year to September.
The acquisition of M-Pesa Holding is expected to result in cost savings for Safaricom, providing an opportunity to earn interest income by investing deposits in short-term debt instruments.
Vodafone disclosed that M-Pesa Holding, now under Safaricom’s control, holds significant short-term investments and customer funds. The transfer of M-Pesa Holding marks Safaricom’s increased control over the mobile money service, originally pioneered in Kenya, and further solidifies its partnership with Vodacom Group Limited in jointly owning the M-Pesa brand through their venture, M-Pesa Africa.