Kenya's Mobile Banking


Kenya Offers World's First Mobile Banking

Kenya's biggest mobile operator is allowing subscribers to send cash

to other phone users by SMS, writes The Guardian.

Touted as a world first, the service - known as M-Pesa,

or mobile money - is expected to revolutionize banking in a country

where more than 80 percent are excluded from the formal financial sector.

Apart from transferring cash - a service much in demand

among urban Kenyans supporting relatives in rural areas - customers

of the Safaricom network will be able to keep up

to 50,000 shillings ($725) in a "virtual account" on their handsets.

Developed by Vodafone, which holds a

35 percent share in Safaricom, M-Pesa was formally launched

in Kenya two weeks ago.

More than 10,000 people have signed up for the service,

with around 8 million shillings transferred so far, mostly in tiny denominations.

Mobile phone growth in Kenya, as in most of Africa, has been remarkable,

even among the rural poor. In June 1999,

Kenya had 15,000 mobile subscribers.

It now has nearly 8 million out of a population of 35 million.


             J-L K.
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