M-Pesa’s Quiet Mobile Revolution 10 Years In
In the developed world, particularly in the United States, mobile payments have entered the scene with a lot of fanfare and great expectations — but haven’t delivered all that much in the way of impressive results. As of the last PYMNTS/InfoScout report on in-store mobile wallet usage, and particularly for the longest running general purpose mobile wallet in the market, Apple Pay, 19 out of 20 users who could use a mobile wallet don’t. It seems when it comes time to pay the piper in the store, consumers in the U.S. and Western Europe still kind of like their cards.
In the developing world, the situation has been interestingly inverted over the past decade. M-Pesa did not enter the world with a great deal of fanfare or terribly high expectations for being a world changer. According to “the father of mPesa,” Michael Joseph, when the idea first appeared on his desk in 2006, M-Pesa was really about something quite different than what it has since grown into — originally it was designed for the microfinance industry for the disbursement and repayment of microfinance loans.
Joseph sat down with Karen Webster in 2015, shortly before his induction into the Payments Hall of Fame.
However, in his capacity as Safaricom’s CEO, Joseph saw that M-Pesa could play much bigger role on the larger stage of micro-transactions over and above lending — it could change the way people move and manage money.