Until recently, cutting-edge technology was not something most people would associate with Kenya. That is changing.
It’s already been 4 years since Safaricom, the leading mobile operator in Kenya, launched their m-pesa service. The competitors have since followed suit, and today, virtually every Kenyan has a mobile wallet on their phone.
To pay for something is as simple as entering the recipients phone number, or selecting it from your contact list. Receiving money is equally easy.
Thousands of small outlets for m-pesa, as well as Zap and YuCash (similar services from the competitors, Zain and Yu) have sprung up over the past few years, creating a great amount of jobs in the process. These outlets also act as banks for those who don’t have regular bank accounts – that is, the majority of Kenyans.
While most high-end restaurants and supermarkets take cards, mobile payments are now the simplest way of transfering amounts of up to €350. Any taxi driver, for instance, will gladly accept mobile cash, and happily so, as it reduces the risk of losing a day’s earnings in the event of a mugging.
For the low-income majority, and for micro-businesses, mobile cash truly represents a revolution, as it removes the risks connected with physical cash, and provides a safe and cheap option for making money transfers.
Interestingly, this technology was developed here, in Kenya, and is currently being exported to other African countries. Althoug revolutionary for the “bottom of the pyramid” segment, this technology is extremely useful across the board, in all income groups. Will we for the first time in modern times see cutting-edge technology being exported from Africa to the West?