According to MTN Group CEO Ralph Mupita, MTN Group is targeting a valuation of its mobile-money arm at about $5-billion, and will consider a listing of the division, joining African wireless carriers trying to monetize a service that is particularly popular on the continent.

This news comes after Mastercard Inc. and TPG Holdings invested $300-million in Airtel Africa’s mobile-money business at a $2.65-billion value.

“With similar valuations to that of Airtel, our valuation would sit at 75 billion rand, or about $5 billion,” said Mupita. “No decision has been made as yet, but listing will be an option considered if that will be the best approach to unlock value.”

Johannesburg-listed MTN has previously said it was looking to spin off its fintech business.

Mobile money, where users store and manage cash in an account linked to a mobile phone, is one of the fastest-growing sources of income for wireless-network operators like MTN and Vodafone Group. Sub-Saharan Africa, which struggles with limited banking infrastructure, has more mobile-money accounts than anywhere else in the world, with about 548 million at the end of 2020, or 54% of all customers, according to the GSMA, the global mobile-operator industry group.

Part-owned by a unit of Vodafone Plc, Safaricom is the largest mobile-money provider in the region with 27 million people that use M-pesa as a mobile bank – buying groceries, borrowing money, transferring cash.

While the region now boasts $490 billion in transaction values, according to GSMA, there’s still a lot of untapped potential, with two of its most populous regions Nigeria and Ethiopia yet to roll out of the service.

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