Safaricom’s M-PESA is one of the world’s most successful mobile money providers. It was designed and developed in Kenya through matching investments from Vodafone (UK) and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). The partnership involved a number of partnering organizations, including project managers and technology and payment experts sourced by Vodafone (UK), Consult Hyperion, and Safaricom. Commercial Bank of Africa managed the escrow account, while FSD-Kenya represented DFID. MSC’s role involved conducting market research and pilot test reviews, testing user interfaces and user experience, and developing material for agent training. Faulu Kenya, a microfinance institution, participated in the pilot test.
During the pilot test, the MSC team ascertained that the principle use-case for the M-PESA solution was not as a payment vehicle for microfinance clients, but as a person-to-person payments platform. MSC launched the solution with 300 agents with a promise to “send money home”—a specific need in Kenya related to the prevalence of split families. Most families in the country have sons and daughters working in the city, while the retired parents live in villages.
MSC’s work alongside the Safaricom pilot test team was instrumental in ensuring that M-PESA could launch successfully with minimal issues and ensure that it could go to scale rapidly. MSC’s extensive work on user experience meant that even new users could adapt to the platform with minimal instruction. Today, M-PESA is the leading mobile money platform in the world with 20 million users in Kenya.