Feb 24, 2012

Seizing The Mobile Money Retail Opportunity in Kenya


We can all agree, in the past 5 years or so, mobile money, and precisely M-PESA arrived. There are over 18 million mobile money subscribers in Kenya, and 90 percent of them use M-PESA. Driven by mobile phone adoption, M-PESA has become an indispensable part of daily life. 

Kenyans are using mobile money for transactions and services including domestic and international remittances, bill payment, payroll deposit, loan receipt and payment and purchase of goods and services ranging from prepaid airtime to groceries to bus tickets to microinsurance.Kenyan consumers are paying their bills no matter where they are

Earlier this week I had a chance to meet up with Dylan Higgins and Ben Lyon, co-founders of Kopo Kopo , a company that has created technology for merchants in Kenya to accept mobile payments.

Kopo Kopo enable small-to-medium sized businesses in Kenya leverage mobile money payments with a low cost subscription software. 


Thanks to Kopo Kopo, accepting mobile money payments is no longer a preserve of corporate; small businesses can do it too, and at a lower cost.

Kopo Kopo allows small businesses to accept mobile payments, as well as check clients M-PESA transactions in real-time from a computer or from an Android Smartphone (Check out Kopo Kopo’s android app on the android market).

If you do not have an M-PESA paybill number Kopo Kopo will help you get one within no time. As Dylan points out “we help businesses get M-PESA paybill numbers and if a business has a paybill number we help them integrate it with Kopo Kopo’s system”. Kopo Kopo also works with other mobile money services.

Kopo Kopo also allows you to set up an sms campaign that informs a client immediately that a business has received their payment. For example, a coffee shop owner can set up an sms campaign that goes something like this, “XYZ Coffee shop has received your payment for coffee. Thank you, and enjoy your coffee”.   Kopo Kopo also lets you segment customers based on their actual purchase behavior.

The need and opportunity for mobile money are shared by businesses and their customers. As Ben points out “to the consumer mobile payments offer a convenient, secure way to pay. To the merchant, they offer the means to to increase customer loyalty, minimize the risk of fraud or theft and lower expenses of handling cash”.

Mobile money shopping represents a massive economic opportunity for small businesses in Kenya. The speed with which Kenyans are using mobile money to pay for goods and services is nothing compared to the change we will see in the next five years. 

Consumers in Kenya are using their mobile phones to perform all sorts of functions- everything from shopping, store location, shopping lists, earning loyalty points, and redeeming vouchers and coupons. The question is what are you, as a business owner, going to do about it?