Kenya’s M-PESA: The Unbelievable Success Story In Numbers

April 13, 2011 7:25 am

We decided to do a deep dive on M-Pesa the minute we heard that one-quarter of Kenya’s GDP flows through this mobile payment system, which is less than four years old. As an intro:

M-PESA is a small-value electronic payment and store of value system that is accessible from ordinary mobile phones. It has seen exceptional growth since its introduction by mobile phone operator Safaricom in Kenya in March 2007: it has already been adopted by 11.9 million customers (corresponding to 54% of Kenya’s adult population) and processes more transactions domestically than Western Union does globally.

Here are some key numbers (as of August 2010):

1. 11.9 million registered customers, of which the majority are active. This corresponds to 73% of Safaricom’s customer base, 54% Kenyan adults, and 31% of the entire population

2. 19,500 retail stores at which M-PESA users can cash-in and cash-out, of which nearly half are located outside urban centers.

3. US $415 million per month in person-to-person (P2P) transfers. On an annualized basis, this is equal to roughly 17% of Kenyan gross domestic product (GDP).

4. There are 27 companies using M-PESA for bulk distribution of payments. Safaricom itself used it to distribute dividends on Safaricom stock to 180,000 individual shareholders who opted to receive their dividends into their M-PESA accounts, out of a total of 700,000 shareholders.

Amazing success story, this one. The report rightly points out the success factors:

“The growth of M-PESA is a testament to Safaricom’s vision and execution capacity. However, Safaricom also benefited from launching the service in a country which contained several enabling conditions for a successful mobile money deployment, including: strong latent demand for domestic remittances, poor quality of available financial services, a banking regulator which permitted Safaricom to experiment with different business models and distribution channels, and a mobile communications market characterized by Safaricom’s dominant market position and low commissions on airtime sales.”

Statistics Source: MicroFinanceGateway

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3 Comments for “Kenya’s M-PESA: The Unbelievable Success Story In Numbers”

  1. RMB

    These stats paint an amazing picture! Great article.

  2. This a great story of what happening in Kenya and in other third world countries. Why west think everything in third world countries is poverty, wars, famine and political instability, they don’t know the many economy changes that taking place in Africa and Asia. Thanks for this great post. I will share with others.

  3. Tsatseng

    Find it interesting that a quarter of Kenya GDP goes through mobile banking. It shows that a lot of convinience is acrued when banks and people use mobile banking.

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