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Mobile banking in Kenya wins Innovation Award

  • By Timothy Roberts
  • Sunday, September 26, 2010

Congratulations to Nick Hughes and Susie Lonie, who will be jointly awarded the Social and Economic Awards at the upcoming Innovation Awards held by The Economist.

Back in 2005 Hughes and Lonie started up M-Pesa, a mobile money initiative based in Kenya to hep pay bills, transfer money and save up using their mobile phones, while not needing a traditional bank account (an area we’ve talked about before here on the Mobile Money Transactions blog).

Backed by Vodafone and provided initial support by the UK Department for International Development, M-Pesa (M being mobile and Pesa being the Swahili for money), the service now runs in Kenya and Tanzania, with a recent launch at Afghanistan and plans for India, Egypt and South Africa, an has over twelve million users in Kenya.

Compare that to the some five million bank accounts open in the country, and you can see just how much of a difference M-Pesa has made both in the supported countries and to innovation, with many companies looking and implementing similar ideas, as the digital manager of The Economist Tom Standage points out in the announcement of the award:

The reach and influence of their product has been extraordinary, not just within Kenya but also beyond, as operators have been inspired by M-PESA’s success and launched similar services.

Oh yes and you can also buy airtime for your mobile as well. Handy that.