What is M-Pesa?
M-Pesa is Africa's most successful mobile money service. It provides access to financial services to the millions of people who have a mobile phone, but do not have or have only limited access to a bank account. M-Pesa provides people with a safe, secure and affordable way to send and receive money, top-up airtime, make bill payments, receive salaries, get a short-term loan and much more.
12 years of M-Pesa
Established on 6th March 2007 by Vodafone's Kenyan associate, Safaricom, M-Pesa is Africa's leading mobile money service, with over 42 million active customers and almost 400,000 active agents operating across 7 countries: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique and Tanzania.
In the Fiscal Year 2019, our 42 million active customers carried out over 11 billion transactions, averaging over 500 transactions every second in December 2018.
M-Pesa enables customers to send, receive and store money safely and securely via a basic smartphone. Most of our markets have launched the M-Pesa smartphone app, providing customers with a digital platform to manage their M-Pesa accounts, and also to make faster purchases at merchant points via QR code.
M-Pesa significantly reduces the potential risks of street robbery, burglary and petty corruption within cash-based economies where only a small proportion of the population benefit from access to conventional financial services.
M-Pesa enables businesses of all sizes to collect payment from customers, make stock purchases and pay salaries to employees anywhere in the country, providing SMS notifications of every transaction for record keeping.
M-Pesa also helps governments to collect taxes and disburse social security payments, whilst enabling charities and non-government organisations to send money to thousands of beneficiaries at once.
How it works
Customers register for the service at an authorised agent, often this is a small mobile phone store or retailer, and then deposit cash in exchange for electronic money which they can send to their family or friends throughout the country.
Once they have registered, all transactions are completed securely by entering a PIN number and both parties receive an SMS confirming the amount that has been transferred. The recipient, who does not have to use the same network, receives the electronic money in real-time and then redeems it for cash by visiting another agent, or spends it at an M-Pesa merchant.
M-PESA has proved that the most basic mobile phone can be turned into a lifeline; a device that can keep you connected in more ways than we ever thought possible just over a decade ago. Increased mobile money transactions have brought the need of more innovation in M-PESA. We have partnered with a range of organisations to come up with innovative solutions to their challenges.
In Tanzania for example, where the cost of travel prevents many people from getting the medical care they need, one non-governmental organisation (NGO), Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation, has used M-Pesa to send patients the money to pay for their travel to its hospital.
In Kenya and Tanzania, M-Kopa Solar has connected hundreds of thousands of off-grid homes to affordable solar powered electricity for lighting, cooking and charging their mobile phones. Since the initial outlay for the solar kit is unaffordable for most households, through M-Pesa customers make small daily payments to M-Kopa, paying off the cost of the kit over the course of a year. The solar system is then fully owned by the household who can continue to use it for free.
In DRC, G4S struggled to pay its security staff who were spread around the country. Local supervisors would head to remote areas to pay staff with cash face-to-face, which was a huge security risk to them and their employees. M-Pesa allowed G4S to pay its staff in bulk, directly to their mobile phones in an instant. “M-Pesa took a big problem off my shoulders. It’s not only fast and effective but also a win-win situation for G4S and our employees." Jan Mortimer, MD, G4S, DRC
Today, 37 million customers in 7 countries rely on M-Pesa to safely and securely send, receive and store money, making Vodafone the leading mobile money provider, alleviating financial uncertainty and contributing to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).?
On the 10th anniversary of M-Pesa, Michael Joseph, Vodafone Group’s Director of Mobile Money, reflects on the technical development and subsequent impact of the world’s leading mobile money service.