Jul 21, 2012

Ask not what mobile payments are, ask how payments fit into a mobile world

What the hell is mobile payments and why should I care?

I have answered that question 15 times this week alone, in my conversations with merchants around Nairobi.

When merchants ask me that question I usually try to get them to understand how payments fit into a mobile world.That is when they really begin to  comprehend how mobile payments are about to revolutionize the way we buy and sell in Kenya. They begin to see how mobile will help them sell more to customers and know more about their trends.

Kenya has the world's highest rate of P2P (person-2-person)  mobile payments familiarity and highest usage level but many businesses are yet to leverage the full range of solutions available for mobile payments. This is because they don't really understand mobile payments.

According to the latest statistics by CCK Kenya has about 30 million mobile phone subscribers, which represents 89 percent of the population. This number is growing. 

There are about 19 million mobile money subscribers,15 million of them are M-PESA subscribers. Over ksh 1.8 billion flows through M-PESA daily. 3 out of 4 adult Kenyans has access to M-PESA. This means that most people that any business comes into contact with whether they are consumers, employees, or suppliers - are connected to a real-time electronic payment network. This makes Kenya one of the most advanced markets in the world.

A recent survey by InMobi shows that mobile devices are increasingly influencing Kenyan shoppers behavior.

Kenya is about to reach the inflection point (the stage at which mobile payments account for an appreciable share of the payments mix).Paying with mobile money, especially paying with M-PESA, is arguably the most significant mode of payment at this time in Kenya.

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