Safaricom CEO Warns His “Clumsy” Product Needs to Diversify or Risk Dying

Friday, October 21, 2016

The future of M-Pesa, the world’s leading mobile money-transfer system, lies in transforming the service’s “clumsy” technology into something more efficient, innovative, and collaborative. At least that’s the vision spelled out by the company’s CEO.

 Speaking to an audience in New York on Oct. 17, Bob Collymore, head of M-Pesa creator Safaricom, acknowledged that the Kenyan firm was “a little bit more open than we used to be” when it comes to developers plugging into their system, and said he hoped to make M-Pesa into a platform for innovation. But to keep up in the fast-paced tech industry, Collymore said a lot of work needs to be done. He described M-Pesa as “far from elegant” when stacked up against other tech products.

“We see that the technology we have today is very clumsy,” Collymore said. “We should have open systems. It’s an open world.” He said M-Pesa was open to global partnerships that would help it address crucial, everyday issues in the African continent—from electricity to water to agriculture.

M-Pesa kickstarted a mobile money revolution when it launched in 2007 and has since grown to 20 million active users, according to Collymore. A staggering 43% of Kenya’s GDP flows through the platform. But after a decade in business, the company is facing new limitations and mounting competition. Visa, which has struggled to promote credit cards in the region, recently launched an M-Pesa competitor in Kenya, called Mvisa.

Source: Quartz (link opens in a new window)

digital payments, financial inclusion, fintech