M-Pesa enables mobile payment economy in Kenya

Customers make money transfers at an M-Pesa stall in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2011.

M-Pesa is a virtual banking system that uses a SIM card to provide transaction services. The system allows users to deposit, transfer, and withdraw funds using their mobile phones, making banking accessible to millions without traditional bank accounts. M-PESA customers can deposit and withdraw money from a network of agents that includes airtime resellers and retail outlets acting as banking agents. Safaricom, in partnership with Vodafone, launched M-Pesa in 2007 in Kenya. M-Pesa is also available in Tanzania, Mozambique, DRC, Lesotho, Ghana, Egypt, Afghanistan, South Africa, and Ethiopia. Women in rural villages could bypass patriarchal control of family finances to pay school fees and support small businesses. However, near-monopolistic providers of the M-Pesa service are criticized for the high cost that the service imposes on its often poor users.

Explore More