Launched in March 2007 by Kenya’s Safaricom, M-PESA has over 17 million customers and over 60,000 Agent outlets countrywide and is the most successful such service anywhere in the world. However, questions have been raised over its origin, and to date, several of the questions remain unanswered, even to us. This is set to end.
A new tell-all book about M-PESA titled “Money, Real Quick- The story of M-PESA” co-authored by Tonny Omwansa, a lecturer at the university of Nairobi and Nicholas Sullivan, a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Emerging Market Enterprises with funding from Rockefeller wants to tell it all.
Using case studies, the book chronicles the evolution of M-PESA from its original concept as a micro finance tool to a complex financial transactions platform that is leading Kenya’s cash-lite agenda. The book features the accounts of those who worked on the service and how it grew to become the most successful mobile money solution in the world.
“M-PESA has earned its place as the most disruptive mobile money innovation and to date none other has come close. M-PESA has changed people’s lives in ways that could not have been envisaged by the people who created it and that is what we have captured in this book,” said Dr. Omwansa.
With 18.2 million customers, M-PESA is the world’s first and indeed, most successful mobile money transfer service. The platform moves KES 77.3 billion a month in peer to peer transactions. A further KES 9.9 billion is moved in person to business transactions while person to business transactions account for KES 7.6 billion a month.
Launched as a simple money transfer service, M-PESA has evolved to a full payment service which now includes payment services and the Lipa na M-PESA service which is targeted at SMEs. Since launch last year, Lipa na M-PESA has so far recruited 36, 749 merchants.
“M-PESA has put Kenya and Africa at the forefront of ICT innovation and is a reference for many other countries that plan to implement a mobile money payment platform.M-PESA is indeed one of the ways that we have been able to fulfil our aspiration to Transform Lives,” said Safaricom’s GM of Financial Services, Betty Mwangi-Thuo.
Launched last evening in Nairobi and available to the public via Amazon and Kindle, the book brings to light challenges which include the regulatory environment. Despite the banks’ reservations about the scheme, once it was successful banks were able to use it to offer financial services to a new customer base. It also follows the impact of M-PESA on the poor, and the dynamics in the Kibera slum, For instance: the average M-PESA balance has gone up fivefold since 2008. The poor are clearly using the service as an alternative to the mattress or the tin under the bed.
It features use of M-PESA in ways that had not been part of the original business model. These include the national airline, the power utility and insurance companies. How Michael Joseph drove the team on to scale as well as building the agent network.
Kenya’s ICT Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang’i also highlighted the pivotal role M-PESA continues to play in supporting the financial inclusion agenda.
“By crystallising the M-PESA journey, this book will allow us to share with the rest of the world, this phenomenal innovation which has redefined the local financial landscape. M-PESA is a case study in the key roles that relevance and access have in resolving societal problems. Indeed, M-PESA has propelled Kenya to the pinnacle of global innovation and we as a country are proud of this landmark product,”he explained.