While it might be incredulous to say that paying for a taxi ride using your mobile phone is easier in Nairobi than in New York, it is in fact, true. Thanks to Kenya’s M-Pesa, a world-class mobile-money payment system, over 17 million Kenyans are able to transfer cash with just their phones. M-PESA which stands for Mobile Money (pesa is Swahili for money), is a mobile-phone based money transfer and microfinancing service and it is often referred to as the most successful mobile phone based financial service in the world. Around 25% of Kenya’s GNP flows through the system and as of November 2014, M-Pesa transactions were valued at KES 2.1 trillion, making up almost half of the country’s GDP.
The immense success of the scheme which was launched in 2007 by Vodafone has led it to expand to Afghanistan, South Africa, India, and later in Eastern Europe.
This is of course a huge feat for a developing country like Kenya. As one of the co-inventors of M-Pesa, Lesley-Ann Vaughan would tell you that developing a mobile finance solution for small payments that is easy to use—even for the illiterate—and which spans over a vast land space, is highly challenging. With poor digitised infrastructure and lack of properly trained staff, it seemed like the scheme was not meant to be for a developing country like Kenya. However, it took flight and became the most lauded service/scheme of its kind; giving millions of people access to the formal financial system and for reducing crime in an otherwise largely cash-based society.
Lesley-Ann, who spent most of her time in Kenya supporting the launch and subsequent development of M-PESA and related mobile money services will be speaking extensively on the world-class mobile-payment service at the Asia IoT Business Platform 2015 in Jakarta. Join us to learn more about this highly valuable scheme, on top of other high profile international IoT and M2M developments which will be discussed during the conference segment. Register now!
Lesley-Ann is a Mobile Financial Services Consultant. She has spent the last 10 years of her career dedicated to mobile money and mobile financial services projects in emerging markets. Of particular note is Lesley-Ann’s personal contribution to the concept, design, development and launch of the M-PESA money transfer service for Vodafone, and her work on M-PESA at that time resulted in her being selected as a finalist at the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year 2008 awards. Today Lesley-Ann enjoys working with clients to create additional services and products on top of strong mobile money rails.