February 18, 2014

Which developing nation leads on mobile payments? Kenya

56%

A majority of Kenyans make or receive payments using cell phones.

Kenya is on the forefront of a banking revolution; a majority of Kenyans (56%) make or receive payments using cell phones. The number of Kenyans engaged in this activity is higher than any of the other 24 countries surveyed in our spring 2013 survey. In fact, only in neighboring Uganda do even a plurality of people say they use their cell phones for mobile banking transactions.KenyaMobile

Kenya’s embrace of mobile money management appears to surpass the U.S. Although we have not polled specifically about mobile payments, our most recent figures show that 35% of American cell owners do mobile banking and 61% of online Americans do banking online.

The remarkable rise of mobile money transfer in Kenya is due in part to something called the M-Pesa service, which was introduced in Kenya in 2007 by Vodaphone and its affiliate Safaricom. M-Pesa (which literally means “mobile money”) allows users to transfer payments of up to $500 from mobile phones with a small, flat, per-transaction fee. It is now estimated that 24.8 million subscribers use mobile money transfer services, like M-PESA, in Kenya. And as the World Banks notes, “the affordability of the service has been key in opening the door to formal financial services for Kenya’s poor.”KenyaMobileMoney

Category: Daily Number

Topics: Mobile

  1. Photo of Jacob Poushter

    is a senior researcher focusing on global attitudes at Pew Research Center.

2 Comments

  1. Graig K1 year ago

    I think you missed Zimbabwe and Zambia – EcoCash is the leading form of payment because no physical bills are available most times. It’s instant and secure. Far more secure than banks. But I guess tracking these remittances is difficult from abroad.

  2. mike allen2 years ago

    Spent a few days with bankers from both countries last week and while mobile payments are big and growing part of their economies, they reminded me not to forget that they are still and primarily a cash economy with all of the expense and risk that goes along with it.