Telecom operator Bharti Airtel’s mobile commerce subsidiary Airtel Money‘s total value of transactions in Africa has grown 31.4% to $2.9 billion for the quarter ended March 31, 2015 from $ 2.2 billion in the same period last year. The total customer base using the Airtel Money platform increased by 76.4% to 6.2 million as compared to 3.5 million in the corresponding quarter last year while the total number of transactions during the quarter has grown by 72.2% to 156.8 million as compared to 91.0 million in the same quarter last year.
During this quarter, Airtel Money also launched its person-to-person money transfer service in the African nations of Zambia, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Airtel Money has also received regulatory approval for the launch of cross border remittances in Niger, Airtel global chief financial officer Srikanth Balachandran said in the company’s earnings conference call.
“As you all know, Africa is witnessing the beginning of a mobile money boom and we are positioning ourselves to participate in this exciting opportunity,” Balachandran said in the call. Balachandran also added that the company does a daily average of 1.75 million transactions on Airtel money in Africa
Answering an analyst question, Bharti Airtel’s group treasurer Harjeet Kohli said that there are some fixed charges and some charges based on value for each transaction and added that the margins from the business were adding a few million dollars to the revenue pie every quarter. It’s worth noting that the average fee to remit money in Africa is the highest of any region in the world and as the Economic Times points out the average fee to remit money in Africa is between 12%-20%.
Separately, the company also said that it has signed a pan African partnership with VISA and MasterCard for the introduction of virtual and plastic companion cards for Airtel Money.Airtel Money is currently present in 17 countries in Africa.
Payments Bank license: Airtel Money parent Airtel M Commerce Services Limited (AMSL), which already has a prepaid payments instrument licence from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), applied for a payments bank license earlier this year. The company had said that if it gets a payments bank licence, Kotak Mahindra Bank will pick up 19.90% stake in AMSL. This is most likely a strategic partnership and they might get expertise and leverage from Kotak Mahindra Bank.
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