Dec 30, 2011

5 M-PESA Predictions To Bank Your Money on in 2012

M-PESA has revolutionized payments in Kenya. And the best for M-PESA still lies ahead. M-PESA's contribution to business,economic development and a means of making social impact in Kenya will continue to grow in innovative and exciting ways in 2012. I have identified five ways in which M-PESA will continue to grow in 2012.

1. More fully function bank accounts on mobile will be launched
M-PESA is connecting with banks in Kenya.And with a bang too.Safaricom is connecting M-PESA with the accounts of other banks,enabling customers to ccash in/cash out of their bank accounts through M-PESA.However, only Equity Bank offers its customers a fully function bank account on mobile- M-KESHO.In 2012 we wil see similar products to M-KESHO being launched by other banks and micro finance institutions.One third of M-PESA accounts are held by people who are otherwise unbanked, and this is the segment that the new products will be targeting.

2. M-PESA will drive ecommerce in Kenya
The move towards mobile payment systems for web-based ecommerce sites is quite recent.Previously you could only shop online with a credit card. Credit cards in Kenya are a preserve of the rich.Few people in Kenya own crredit cards or are willing to shop online with them.But recently ecommerce sites in Kenya are integrating M-PESA payments into their sites. One firm, Intrepid Data Systems is enabling businesses to accept M-PESA payments online.M-PESA give shoppers comfort and convinience unmatched by credit cards.This is key to the growth of ecommerce in Kenya.

3. Large scale adoption by SMEs 
Corporates have been quick to leverage M-PESA payments as a payment channel ,the latest to do so being British Airways and Virgin Atlantic . This trend will be followed on by small-to-medium sized enterprises, which will be driven by the emergence of of firms like KopoKopo -KopoKopo enables SMEs to accept mobile payments by providing a low-cost subscription software-as-a-service.

4. M-PESA will dominate the international money transfer market
Remittances are Kenya's single largest source source of foreign exchange. Last year the world bank conducted a study that showed 2.6 million Kenyans receive $2  billion (ksh 150 billion) annually from Kenyans in the diaspora.Earlier this year Safaricom partnered with Western Union to enable its customers to receive international money transfers from 45 countries and territories using any of the 80,000 Western Union agent locations across the globe, including the U.S, Canada, Italy and the U.K. In 2012 we will see Safaricom play an important role in the IMT that is currently dominated by Western Union and Money Gram.

5.M-PESA will pay interest on deposits
2012 maybe the year that Safaricom finally manages to convince the regulator to allow M-PESA to be marketed as a savings product.This is more of a wish.And I know it is far fetched given the current regulations governing mobile payments in Kenya.Since Safaricom is not registered as a financial service provider, providing interest on savings is not an option.M-PESA is much more affordable than most other savings services and I know there are many others who share the same sentiment with me,but only time will tell.

It will be interesting to look back on this list next year to see how far and how fast this predictions have moved and to speculate on a new batch of emerging trends.