Mobile money would transform even more lives in poor countries if regulators got out of the way
IN 2007 Safaricom, the biggest mobile operator in Kenya, launched M-PESA, a service that allows money to be sent and received using mobile phones. It has since signed up 15m users, is used by 70% of the adult population and has become central to the economy: around 25% of Kenya’s GNP flows through it.
Similar schemes have had some success elsewhere. More than 120 mobile operators now offer mobile-money services of various kinds, and another 90 will soon join them. There has been a particular push in east Africa. Yet in many poor countries where mobile money should be flourishing, it isn’t.
A bank in your pocket
Mobile-money services are especially useful in developing countries. A worker in the city can send money to his family in the village without having to waste a day travelling on a rickety bus. Indeed, he can pay his family’s household bills directly from his phone.