M-Pesa founder shares lessons learned from ten years of mobile money

Vodafone's Michael Joseph
PIONEER: Vodafone’s Michael Joseph presided over the launch of M-Pesa ten years ago

M-Pesa pioneer Michael Joseph, founding CEO of Safaricom and now director of mobile money at Vodafone Group, explains how the service works and the lessons learned from building and deploying one of the world’s most successful mobile money services in an in-depth Q&A that is now available to download free of charge from the NFC World Knowledge Centre.

“There are three key lessons we have learned,” Joseph says. “First, a supportive regulatory framework for enabling payments is essential in any market where you plan to launch services.

“Second, the service itself needs to be reliable, simple and accessible, delivered through a well-trained, widespread agent distribution network.

“Finally — and perhaps most importantly of all — for your service to be adopted, your customers need to trust your brand with their money.

“Mobile money is still a nascent market, and we are learning all the time,” he adds. “Since launch we have learned that other countries beyond Kenya have different ‘pain points’ and ‘hook’ use cases to drive people towards using and trusting the service.

“For example, in Kenya, the first reason for customers to engage with M-Pesa was to send money home. In Mozambique, however, customers first tested the service by using it to pay for electricity, and when they saw they could trust it for that purpose, they also started sending money to family, friends and business contacts.”

“Nobody knew it would be so successful – least of all me — and it is humbling to think how far we have come in ten years,” Joseph says. “It was unheard of for people to trust a mobile operator with their money, but we carefully built confidence in M-Pesa and it rapidly grew into a financial service that is relied upon by millions of customers every day. A decade later, M-Pesa is processing over half a billion transactions each month.”

Readers can download the full eight-page Q&A from the NFC World Knowledge Centre.

• This article is part of What’s New in Payments 2, a 76-page special report that explores and explains the latest payment trends and technologies. You can download the entire series here.