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The commercial use of cellphones

02 Jun

For a people that embraced the commercial use of mobile telephones just five years ago, Kenyans have become quite innovative in making the gadgets work for them.With M-Pesa one can receive money,pay electricity and water bills, pay for goods at the supermarket, buy airline or bus tickets, withdraw money from an ATM, monitor stocks, and even check bank account balances.Originally, M-PESA was designed to let customers send and receive modest sums of money (up to $500) using their mobile phones. But since its introduction, it has spawned new uses by the day.

While ordinary Kenyans are quite happy about the hassles the service has spared them, such as long lines, local banks are not amused.The service has significantly decreased the daily volume of transactions going through banks. Some 8 million customers move nearly half a billion dollars via the M-PESA system every month.Safaricom recently extended M-PESA services to Britain, allowing Kenyans there to send money to relatives back home. Plans are said to be under way to take it to the United States too.New faces are set to enter the mobile money transfer market soon, setting the stage for a bruising battle for market share and revenues as the industry matures meaning that consumers will soon have greater choice from a wider range of providers.

This and similar payment applications have dramatically changed the life for the better in Africa, where very few people had access to banking services until very recently.


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