Today marked 15 years since the official launch of M-Pesa by Vodafone through its subsidiary, Safaricom in Kenya. Since then, M-Pesa has gone on to become Afrika’s leading mobile money solution. Back then, when I also wrote this article on the tale of M-Pesa’s curious origins, it was a matter of pride that M-Pesa be marketed as a Kenyan. With time having passed, that is no longer as important as the fact that the solution has created value and equally allowed many to capture that value.
M-Pesa has become such a success that in Kenya it was reported in 2019 that M-Pesa transactions account for half of Kenya’s GDP.
Success for M-Pesa was not only limted to Kenya as the mobile money service was expanded to Tanzania, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Ghana, Egypt, and South Africa, to name but a few. ALthough it did not prove to be as popular in these countries as it did in Kenya.
This got me wondering, in the age of cryptocurrencies, would M-Pesa not have become a global standard had it not been patented but rather released as an open source solution?
One can only ponder. Here’s to many more years for M-Pesa and more importantly, many more years of Afrikan technology innovation.
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