Scramble for control of mobile cash in Kenya

Safaricom’s mobile phone money transfer service M-pesa has in a year signed up more customers than Kenya’s banking industry did in a century, triggering a rush by financial service providers to replicate it or simply get hooked to it.

None of these players have broken Safaricom’s competitive advantage. But a new wave of mobile money transfer systems is about to be launched by the mobile operator’s competitors.

This wave of new products looks set to extend Kenya’s unprecedented move into the creation of a financial services sector that supplies structured money products for those without bank accounts.

Those who want to join Safaricom into the mobile money market are hoping that the ongoing transformation of Kenya into a cashless economy will stay on course offering them a piece of the millions that the mobile phone service provider is currently raking in from M-pesa.

Since it was launched one year ago, M-pesa has surpassed all expectations, growing a large customer base and revenue volumes. This growth is mainly seen to be driven by M-pesa’s acting as the bridge between Kenya’s formal economy that is mainly composed of the section of the population with bank accounts and the informal one made up mainly of the unbanked.

This rapid spread of M-pesa’s tentacles, though a big boost to the national payment system, has been raffling feathers in many quarters.
Business Daily Africa