Innovations in rural and agricultural finance: M-PESA

Finding new ways to serve the unbanked in Kenya

Susie Lonie
2020 vision focus brief

Over the past three years, payment strategies for emerging markets have been revolutionized by the advent of a simple cell-phone-based payment service in Kenya called M-PESA (“M” for “mobile” and “pesa” for “money”). From a small-scale pilot program in 2006, M-PESA has become an outstanding success in Kenya; customer response has been unprecedented. Currently, more than 9 million Kenyans use M-PESA to perform tens of millions of transactions every month throughout the country. Although this success has led to new opportunities, it has also brought about many unforeseen challenges.