The Next Generation – A Cashless Mobile Society

How M-Pesa Transformed Kenya and Afghanistan

Technology is ever changing. One can go to sleep and wake up to a whole new technological innovation. We are currently in the era of being that cashless mobile society, whether you are either a “developed” or “developing country”.

When Kenya introduced the “M Pesa” concept – mobile money concept in 2007 under Safaricom, it became a popular mobile innovation. To understand what M Pesa is – it is a mobile phone money transfer, which can be easily sent through SMS, but with the security of a PIN number and one can withdraw or deposit through a network of agents, who are signed up with the mobile company. No need to rush to the bank and stand in queues, anymore. It is so successful in Kenya, that currently there are 15.7 million subscribed users. Every transaction involves M Pesa, from shopping to paying for daily bills/ salaries, it is part and parcel of the daily life in Kenya, it is hard to phantom what life was before M Pesa came along. So long physical wallet and hello mobile wallet.

Afghanistan was the second country to launch its own version of mobile money – “M Paisa” under Roshan, in 2008. Currently Roshan has over 1.3 million registered users, being the largest mobile money provider. The other telecommunications companies (MTN, Etisalat, AWCC and AfTel) are catching up and are offering or going to offer tier own mobile money products.

Mobile money is not only secure (no need to carry cash anymore), but it is also reliable, making life easy. Some of the benefits for mobile money are: from sending money, paying bills, withdrawing money, receiving one’s salary to accessing one’s bank account. The benefits are endless. The beat part of it, it only take 10 – 15 minutes to register and it is free. For example, with Roshan, an individual needs a Roshan SIM Card (Mobile number), Tazkira (national Id) original copy and a recent passport size color photo. There are also plans on the way to introduce a mobile saving scheme, which would enable subscribers to deposit and accumulate balances in a phone-based savings account.

One success story about mobile money, is the one about the national police are getting their monthly salary via M Paisa. It was initially sent via sms, but Roshan changed it to voice calls, notifying the individuals, that they can collect their monthly salaries, from any of the over 2,500 agents in the country. It was success because majority of the police could now receive their full salary securely and on time, thereby reducing corruption. Since then there is the aim of adding the army to such a scheme by the government. Another benefit, is the now famers can now get real time information to commodity pricing.

As the saying goes “time is money”, so definitely with all these technological changes, it would surely help us achieve and accomplish what initially took 2-3 days, is not cut short to a day or even hours. Very soon, it shall only be minutes.

Category: Opeds

About Author

Gloria Lwakabamba

Gloria holds a Bachelors in Marketing with a minor in Journalism and a Masters in International Development. Her work experience is in project management, research, business development and communication, having worked in the Private Sector, Government and with International NGOs. She has written and contributed to several research papers, on various developmental subjects, which included financial inclusion, customer service and labour market.

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