M-PESA is a revolutionary mobile phone-based money transfer system that was launched in 2007 by Vodafone and Safaricom. The system initially targeted communities without access to traditional banking in Kenya and Tanzania. The service rapidly gained traction with high mobile phone penetration in these regions.
M-PESA offers a comprehensive suite of financial services via mobile, from money transfers and payments to credit and savings. It has integrated millions into formal economic systems and lowered crime rates in societies where cash transactions were dominant. Yet, it has drawn criticism for steep service fees.
Since its inception, M-PESA has expanded its footprint significantly. Currently, nearly 30 million users across 10 nations benefit from the platform. The introduction of Lipa Na M-PESA in 2012 broadened the service’s applicability, enabling businesses to process payments more efficiently.
The platform’s growth is due primarily to its alignment with prevalent mobile phone usage and its role in filling a critical gap in financial access for underserved populations.