The number of registered mobile money accounts in India witnessed a quantum leap from just 73 per thousand adults in 2015 to 1,265 in 2019, suggesting a massive improvement in access to digital financial services in recent years, showed data released in an International Monetary Fund (IMF) report.
The report defines ‘mobile money’ as a financial service offered by a mobile network operator (MNO) or another entity that partners with an MNO, facilitated by a network of mobile money agents.
Of course, the value of mobile money transactions is still a tiny fraction of India’s GDP and far below the level among even some low- and middle-income countries.
“Mobile money has taken deep root in both sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, providing financial services to the underbanked and unbanked populations in these regions,” the IMF said in its Financial Access Survey-2020, released late Monday.
The report said the progress made in getting people into the folds of the financial system, especially in low- and middle-income economies, has been made possible through innovations such as digital financial services, including mobile money.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data released recently showed a huge jump in digital transactions over the past five years. Between FY16 and FY20, digital payments have grown at a compounded annual growth rate of 55.1% – from 593.61 crore in the year through March 2016 to 3,434.56 crore in the last fiscal.
In value term, it has grown from `920.38 lakh crore to `1,623.05 lakh crore during this period, recording an compounded annual growth rate of 15.2%, according to the RBI data.
The IMF report shows that among a dozen countries in the low and middle-income economies, India has witnessed the biggest jump in the number of registered mobile money accounts between 2015 and 2019. While in Fiji and Kenya, the number of such accounts (2,250 and 1,859, respectively, per thousand adults, in 2019) was higher, they had a much larger base in 2015 as well.
While the value of mobile money transactions in 2019 is close to 70% and 90% of GDP in Ghana and Cambodia, respectively, it is still just a tiny fraction of India’s GDP.