M-Pesa is a Kenyan mobile payments platform, one of the first of its kind in Africa (pesa means “money” in Swahili). In other, words, it is referred to as a mobile banking service.

The platform was first launched by the Kenyan mobile network operator Safaricom, where Vodafone is technically a minority shareholder (40%), in March 2007. M-Pesa quickly captured a significant market share for cash transfers, and grew to 17 million subscribers by December 2011 in Kenya alone.

M-Pesa allows users to send and receive money through its agents, who act as “Human ATMs”.

WHY IS M-PESA SERVICE POPULAR IN AFRICA?

Like many parts of the developing world, Africans are significantly less likely to have bank accounts and credit or debit cards. But mobile phones have penetrated the African market, and in countries such as Nigeria and Kenya, the majority of people have a workable phone.

The service has been a runaway success since launching in 2007, operating in 10 countries across Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia and earning Safaricom 19.4 billion shillings (about $190 million) in the first half of 2015. It seems likely that as cell phone use continues to proliferate on the African continent, M-Pesa’s transactions will grow, too.

WHO IS THE REAL FOUNDER OF M-PESA?

The name of the student who invented M-Pesa, or at least by his own right, is Nyagaka Anyona Ouko. The certificate of copyright he presented as evidence dates back to 2012; by then M-Pesa was a force to reckon in the Kenyan economy. Ouko also claims that other Kenyans contributed to the founding of M-Pesa.

However, that is contrary to what official documents say, inwhich Mr. Nick Hughes and Susie Lonie are recognized as the founders of the number one mobile banking service in Africa.

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