Can M-Pesa's success in Kenya be replicated?
M-PESA, Stears

When a conversation about mobile money happens, Safaricom’s M-Pesa is always lauded as a successful example of execution done right. Failure to identify similar traction for many other mobile money services (be it other telcos, fintechs, or traditional banks) might cause many to fear that M-Pesa’s success may never be replicated again. M-Pesa is used by over 30 million Kenyans, equivalent to more than 70% of the adult population; and around 50% of the country’s GDP flows through it. 

Operators (both in Kenya and in other countries) have done their best to imitate Safaricom. A noteworthy mention includes Africa’s biggest operator, MTN, which has rolled out mobile-money schemes in several African countries. However, mobile money services in other African countries are still playing catch-up. 


Key takeaways:

  • Mobile money operators in African countries, including Kenya, are playing catch up with Safaricom's M-Pesa, which over 30 million Kenyans use. 

  • The market for mobile money in Africa is at its early stages, so it's vital to understand M-Pesa's business model and how it achieved its product-market fit in Kenya.

  • Apart from market dominance and branding, Safaricom M-Pesa’s success stands primarily on the support of the Kenyan government. M-Pesa's successful streak as a financial services provider was not subject to regulatory burdens that traditional banks faced.

  • Some factors behind M-Pesa's success might not need to be replicated 100%. Existing and potential African mobile money operators must focus their innovation on improving consumer experience by addressing two significant issues—affordable pricing and ease of use.


Therefore, the questions put forward are: can other mobile money service providers achieve the same product-market fit as M-Pesa did in the Kenyan market? Or was the execution of M-Pesa business model shaped by a set of circumstances that aren’t necessarily available to other players?

It’s important to

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Fadekemi Abiru

Fadekemi Abiru

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