Kenya’s mobile money use hits record high in October amid COVID-19 pandemic

Residents transfer money using the M-Pesa banking service at a store in Nairobi, Kenya, on Sunday, April 14, 2013. In the six years since Kenya's M-Pesa brought banking-by-phone to Africa, the service has grown from a novelty to a bona fide payment network. Photographer: Trevor Snapp/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Kenyans transacted 528.9 billion shillings (about $4.9 billion) on their mobile phones in October as usage rose considerably amid the COVID-19 pandemic, new Central Bank of Kenya data released on Monday showed.

FILE PHOTO: Residents transfer money using the M-Pesa banking service at a store in Nairobi, Kenya. (Photographer: Trevor Snapp/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The amount is the highest ever the East African nation’s citizens have reached via mobile money since the technology was started in 2007.

In September, usage stood at $4.5 billion and in August $4.35 billion, driven by various measures instituted by the government to curb COVID-19.

These measures include removal of charges on transactions that are 9.17 dollars and below, to curb cash use and free deposit of money from a mobile account to a bank account. The government also increased the daily transaction volume to 2,752 dollars from 1,376 dollars.

These anti-COVID-19 measures have helped bring onboard thousands of users who were left out due to high transaction fees.

Many citizens have also embraced e-commerce, shopping and paying bills using their phones.

The $4.9 billion monthly transaction means citizens are moving $163 million daily.

The number of agents during the month topped 174,100, according to the apex bank, an indication of the importance of the sector as a job creator.