The Kenyan MPESA App: A Mobile Cash Solution

Adele Gikonyo
3 min readJul 11, 2021
Photo by Nick Noel on Unsplash

The Kenyan M-Pesa app is a mobile cash solution that has been around for more than 10 years. It was originally designed to provide Kenyans with an easy way to send money and store value, but it has grown into so much more. There are currently 28 million Kenyans using the service on a monthly basis, which is over half of the population. This article will explore how this technology came about, what it can do for you now, and where it might be going in the future.

M-Pesa was first developed by Safaricom and Vodafone in 2007. It is a mobile application that uses the M-Pesa service and allows people to transfer money with their phones from one account to another by using simple text messages. The idea for this came about because there was an increasing need for more accessible banking services, as well as a way to increase access to funds that were not available in a physical location.

The M-Pesa application is still used to send money from one person to another, but it has evolved into much more than that. Aside from simple person-to-person instantaneous fund transfer, you can now make merchant payments, apply for loans, and purchase airtime, and much more.

M-Pesa found a way to bypass the regulatory infrastructure of the Kenyan financial system and provide financial services without requiring a banking license. This enables a new type of banking service that is not only more accessible to those with lower incomes but also provides an opportunity for growth. This lack of a regulatory moat goes a long way in explaining the success of M-Pesa in disrupting financial services. M-Pesa has been able to provide banking services throughout Kenya without any involvement from traditional banks and their regulatory systems.

M-Pesa has contributed towards the reduction of poverty as it allows financial services to be extended to those that do not have bank accounts at a significantly lower cost than through the use of physical infrastructure. The mobile wallet is also a secure place to store funds, especially for those living in rural areas as the money is stored electronically and is password protected.

M-Pesa is such a large part of the Kenyan economy, that its transactions are now equivalent to more than half of the countries GDP. Annually M-Pesa transaction value amounts to $203 billion with roughly a billion transactions going through the platform each month. It is no surprise that M-Pesa revenues of $771 million are now larger than the revenues of even the largest bank operating in Kenya today.

Recently M-Pesa has launched as a standalone app, decoupled from the regular Safaricom application. The new app has more features including fingerprint unlocking, transaction authentication, and the ability to make bulk payments. This move is a sign of the company’s ambition to grow and expand its fintech offering and continue to transform the banking landscape in Kenya.

Mobile banking has been transforming our lives, with M-Pesa leading the way for developing nations. This article has explored the Kenyan M-Pesa app and what it can do in Kenya today as well as where it might be going into the future. With the majority of Kenyans using this service monthly. M-Pesa is expanding its services to other countries in Africa and will soon be available across the continent.

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