James Militzer

Mobile Money Movers – Part 1: A conversation with Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, Head of Strategy for Financial Services at Safaricom

If you follow BoP business, you’ve probably heard of M-Pesa.

Provided by Safaricom, a Kenyan mobile network operator, M-Pesa is a mobile phone based money transfer and microfinancing service that has become one of the biggest success stories in the history of the BoP domain. Launched in 2007, it quickly dominated the cash transfer market, and grew at an astounding rate, capturing 17 million subscribers by December 2011 – a number that represents more than two-thirds of Kenya’s adult population.

M-Pesa makes it easy for users to send and store money on their mobile phones, and to convert that money to cash through a nationwide network of agents. It now stands as the most developed mobile payment system in the world, and it is expanding to other countries in Africa and beyond – and branching out into other forms of financial services.

Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, head of Strategy for Financial Services at Safaricom, was a presenter at the recent Mobile Money: Technology to Transform Transactions conference. Kyla Yeoman, Global Envision Program Manager at Mercy Corps (a NextBillion Content Partner), interviewed him for NextBillion Financial Innovation. They discussed the circumstances behind M-Pesa’s success (hint: supportive regulators were a factor), the ways Safaricom has turned to women to help advance financial inclusion, and the evolution of its product line beyond cash transfers.

We’re featuring their discussion as Part 1 of our Mobile Money Movers series – a series of videotaped interviews with some of the most interesting thinkers and innovators in mobile money today. Future interviews will include:

Ignacio Mas, mobile money consultant

Zahir Khoja, CEO of Mobile Payment Solutions at MasterCard

Gregory Chen, Senior Financial Sector Specialist at CGAP

Abhishek Sinha, co-founder and CEO of Eko

Karim Khoja, CEO of Roshan

digital payments, financial inclusion, mobile finance