,less than two years ago,Nick Hughes and Susie Lonie describedhow they conceptualized,piloted and,in 2007 launched,M-PESA,an award-win-ning money transfer technology based on mobile phones.
Much has happenedsince then.This article looks further into what happened next,focusing on the local con-text and commenting on what the future might hold.I will try to demonstrate thatbesides the simple and innovative product,the characteristics ofthe local mobiletelephony and banking sectors contributed greatly to the successful adoption anddiffusion ofthe money transfer service.This is a good example ofa service whosetime had come and whose implementation occurred in the right context.ABOUT KENYAKenya,considered an economic hub ofEast Africa,lies astride the equator.Tanzania lies to the south and Uganda to the west;to the southeast lies over 3300miles ofIndian Ocean coastline.In 2007,Kenya’s population was estimated at36,913,721 and its growth rate at 2.8%.More than a third ofthe population livesin urban areas;Nairobi,the capital,is the largest city,with approximately 3,000,000people.
Like people in many emerging markets,most Kenyans are not used to makingelectronic payments.At the national level,most transactions are in cash.A survey © 2009 Tonny Omwansa
/ Mobile World Congress 2009
M-PESA:Progress and Prospects
Innovations Case Discussion:
Tonny Kerage Omwansa is a lecturer at the Faculty ofInformation Technology at Strathmore University in Nairobi,Kenya.He holds a BSc.in Computer Science from Nairobi,Kenya and MSc.Computer from Kansas,USA.Besides consultancy in tech-nology issues,he has done extensive research in Mobile Transactions in Africa and published various reports including use ofairtime transfers,mobile banking,virtual currencies as well as regulation ofmobile transactions.His research interests are inmobile transactions,socio-economic impacts oftechnologies in emerging economiesand role oftechnology in regulation.He is enrolled for a PhD pursuing economics of technology with an emphasis on regulation.