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Safaricom’s M-Pesa to Transfer 20% of Kenya’s GDP in 2010

By Wayan Vota on June 23, 2010

This is the bombshell that Erik Hersman tweeted about Safaricom’s mPayment system, M-Pesa. Read it and then stop to think a minute about what that means for Kenya:

If one company moves 20% of country’s GDP, and that company is not even a bank, just want does that tell you about the rise of mobile phone operators in Africa? Here are three thoughts that leap out at me:

  1. For the first time, telecommunications companies are now “too big to fail” – they are such a force in a country’s economy, they are now of strategic interest to national governments.
  2. With such success, mPayment innovation will be severely curtailed in other countries. Banks will demand to lead mobile payment processes – they’ll not loose that much business again
  3. mPayments are now a business requirement, too many potential customers use it for a company to ignore it as payment option.

But don’t think that Safaricom is resting on its laurels even though it owns the mPayment space in Kenya. They’re now launching M-Kesho, which enables M-Pesa customers to perform basic banking transactions like deposit and transfer savings via their handsets

With innovations like this, 20% of Kenya’s GDP may even be a conservative estimate.


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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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3 Comments to “Safaricom’s M-Pesa to Transfer 20% of Kenya’s GDP in 2010”

  1. Kachwanya says:

    The way banks in Kenya are rushing to cash in the mobile money or mpayments is a clear sign on how integral mpayments has become in the business transactions. At first it was like a joke and the banks became the biggest critics of the Mpesa but later on they realized that mobile money transfer and banking services are here to stay. Banks are now trying hard to be part and parcel of the mobile money ecosystem and i must say they have succeeded with the coming of the new products like Mkesho.

    “Too big to fail” ..mmmh or is too important to fail. Mpesa in Kenya has reached a point that people might not imagined life without mpesa. It has made life easy, paying bills, paying for goods, sending money to stranded relatives, buying airtime, short time money storage./bank and the list is endless

  2. Wayan Vota says:

    “Over $4.4 billion has passed through M-PESA since it’s introduction.” – Overheard by Ken Banks at Mobile World Africa (see here)

  3. […] as this leverages the only electronic device that has a greater distribution in emerging markets. 20% of GDP in Kenya is already passing through a mobile payment service (mPesa) and soon it is inevitable that we will be able to say something similar about healthcare […]