Sports Betting in Kenya Lifts Vodafone Mobile-Money Volumes

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Kenyans using mobile-money platform M-Pesa to bet on the outcome of sporting events helped Vodafone Plc’s unit in the East African country boost transaction volumes by 48 percent in the past year.

The service, offered by Safaricom Ltd. in East Africa’s biggest economy, is now transacting about 5 billion shillings ($50 million) day, Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore, 57, said in an interview May 7 in the capital, Nairobi. M-Pesa, which means mobile money in the Swahili language, can now handle 900 transactions per second, compared with 320 previously, after Safaricom moved its servers to Kenya from Germany to improve efficiency, he said

“We’re seeing tremendous growth,” Collymore said. “Sports betting is one which is using M-Pesa a lot and had we not done this we would have really struggled to meet capacity there. That sector has now absolutely overtaken everyone else.”

 M-Pesa earned Safaricom, which is 40 percent owned by Vodafone Plc, about 32.6 billion shillings in the 12 months through March 2015, a fifth of total revenue. The company reports its latest full-year earnings on Wednesday. The platform has grown from 2 million users in the first year it was introduced in 2007, to more than 21 million, Collymore said. The number of transactions it handles equates to about a third of Kenya’s $61 billion gross domestic product, according to World Bank data.

Source: Bloomberg (link opens in a new window)