Mobile money and international remittances: Enabling recovery during COVID-19

Rishi Raithatha
Senior Advocacy Manager, GSMA

Since 2016, the GSMA has supported the International Day of Family Remittances (IDFR) – adopted by the United Nations General Assembly – which is observed annually on 16 June. This year, the GSMA is continuing to support the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the custodian of the IDFR, by endorsing its theme: “Recovery and Resilience through Digital and Financial Inclusion”. This is especially relevant as the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a shift to digital payments where cash would have previously been used – including for remittances. The use of digital remittances has helped to bring about financial resilience for many families in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

According to the 2021 State of the Industry Report in Mobile Money, there are 310 live mobile money services in 96 countries. These services collectively have over 1.2 billion registered mobile money accounts, with around one third offering remittances. While all transaction use cases grew between 2019 and 2020, mobile money-enabled remittances increased by around 65 per cent year-on-year. For the first time, over $1 billion was processed via mobile money each month in 2020 – around 80 per cent of which was in Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, upcoming research commissioned by the GSMA found that the ratio of digital to cash-based transactions has grown by nearly 50 per cent since 2017. The growth of mobile money has specifically contributed to the increase in the use of digital remittance services.

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