Has Airtel Money added 600,000 subscribers in just a month? And no, Airtel doesn’t have 800 million agents!

airtel-logo-redSo today we woke up to two pieces of news that left us wondering if we’re being lied to or if just mistakes in a press releases that publications have just echoed. Two articles by two different publications all claimed that Airtel Money now has 1.8 million subscribers and that the company’s mobile money agents are now, wait for it, 800 million! Yes, 800 million agents!

The first is one posted yesterday by BiztechAfrica, which says:

“We are confident that this system will improve efficiencies and lower the cost of doing business. The more payments are processed electronically, the less spend on paper which Airtel Money seeks to encourage in the country,” said Lumpa.
She added:  “Airtel Money customer base has reached 1.8 million with 800 million agents countrywide and half a million transactions on a monthly basis.”


And the second, ITWeb Africa and it goes:

Airtel Zambia’s mobile money customer base has hit 1.8 million with half a million transactions on a monthly basis.

Airtel Zambia managing director Charity Lumpa said the company also has 800 Airtel Money million agents countrywide.


The problem with these numbers is this: less than a month ago Airtel Money director Brenda Thole told the press the total number of mobile money subscribers was over 1.2 million. Granted 1.8m is over but 600,000 is tad too big a difference to not have been noted then. And considering how big the growth is – service was launched in Sept 2011, a 600,000 jump even if it were for the last 6 months, would’ve been quite impressive – why is this milestone not the news?

And as for 800 million agents, well, we think they meant just 800.  We’re reaching out to Airtel to get the facts