What is M-Pesa?

M-Pesa is the world’s most successful money transfer service. It enables millions of people who have access to a mobile phone, but do not have or have only limited access to a bank account, to send and receive money, top-up airtime and make bill payments.

Customers register for the service at an authorised agent, often this is a small mobile phone store or retailer, and then deposit cash in exchange for electronic money which they can send to their family or friends. Once they have registered all transactions are completed securely by entering a PIN number and both parties receive an SMS confirming the amount that has been transferred. The recipient, who does not have to use the same network, receives the electronic money in real-time and then redeems it for cash by visiting another agent.

Innovative uses

In addition to the millions of person-to-person (P2P) and customer-to-business (C2B) transactions, M-Pesa has made a big difference to people’s lives in other ways.

In Tanzania for example, where the cost of travel prevents many people from getting the medical care they need, one non-governmental organisation (NGO), Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania (CCBRT), has used M-Pesa to send patients the money to pay for their travel to its hospital.

In Kenya, Water Company customers use M-Pesa to buy credits which are transferred from their phone to their key fob which is then used to pay for fresh, clean water when they need it.