[Dave Birch] Our good friends at Safaricom in Kenya have allowed us to share some up-to-date (and really rather positive) figures from the launch of the M-PESA scheme that we have been working on there. For those of you not familiar with the service, it’s based on secure text messaging and aimed at the more than 80% of people who are excluded from the formal financial sector there. Apart from transferring money from person to person – a service in demand from urban Kenyans supporting relatives in rural areas – customers of the Safaricom network can also keep up to 50,000 shillings (£370) in a “virtual account” linked to their handset (well, SIM actually).

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It’s still early days for M-PESA in Kenya, but things are looking good. Since its formal launch on 6th March:

  • People have been registering at the rate of around 1,600 per day;
  • There are now around 60,000 registered customers;
  • Approximately $2.5 million was sent person-to-person in the first nine weeks of operation; and
  • On a random day recently, more than $157,000 was deposited with M-PESA agents.

Now, in world financial services terms these might seem like small numbers, but remember these are poor people in a developing country and the system is only just rolling out. Nevertheless, with 1,600 people registering every day, the curve looks good.

These opinions are my own (I think) and presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]

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