M-Pesa’s influence in Kenya has placed mobile money services on the map. Today there are a number of successful mobile money services all over world that are similar and can be credited to this success.
According to the Global Mobile Systems Association (GMSA), roughly 255 mobile money services were operating across 89 countries in 2014. They are now available in more than 60 percent of developing markets.
Sub Saharan Africa is the region where mobile money is most wide spread, followed by Southeast Asia and Latin America. Some of the most successful examples include:
- The Philippines, Smart was the first to transfer person-to-person remittances from 2000. By December 2007, 5.5 million Filipinos had used their mobile phones for personal finance, making the country a leader in mobile transactions.
- Bangladesh, which is quickly becoming a global leader in mobile banking, BRAC Bank’s subsidiary bKash accounts for 80 percent of market share. Dutch-owned Bangla Mobile as well as MCash, launched by Bangladesh’s largest private bank, are expected to make significant contributions.
- Pakistan, mobile banking is led by EasyPaisa, one of nine providers. Tameer Bank and Telenor Pakistan launched EasyPaisa in 2009, and with 7.4 million users it is now the third largest mobile money service in the world.
- In Afghanistan, the country’s largest telecommunications company Roshan launched M-Paisa in 2009 in collaboration with Vodafone and the Ministry of the Interior to pay police salaries using mobile money. Costs fell by 10 percent as ghost payments to nonexistent police officers were eradicated and corruption was reduced. Now with over 1.2 million subscribers, M-Paisa’s success led other large telecommunications firms to launch mobile money platforms in Afghanistan in 2012.
The spread of mobile money services does raise the need for banking and telecom regulators to work together to allow these mobile platforms to work. As mobile money services continue to expand more proactive policies are required to ensure that the market can continue to grow and serve local consumers. Getting banking and telecom regulators to coordinate can be easier said than done, and this hurdle has slowed the adoption of mobile money platforms around the world.
While M-Pesa and other services like it do expand opportunity and financial presence, mobile transfers are not a complete answer to fully participating in formal financial systems. M-Pesa only allows for relatively small amounts of money to be stored and transferred via mobile phones and can’t substitute for opening a bank account or getting a loan for a small business.
By enabling users to transfer money to each other and make payments directly to businesses and service providers, mobile money platforms cut down on corruption by reducing the need to operate in a cash-only economy. As a result, M-Pesa’s empowers individuals and supports entrepreneurial creativity in a less constrained financial marketplace.