In this technologically-advanced age, the first thought about digital money is cryptocurrencies, pioneered by Bitcoin. But, that is not the case in Kenya as M-Pesa is the order of the day.
In Kenya, it is hard to come across a business merchant who doesnt use M-Pesa. Its a top-rated mobile money service in the country. In fact, it has even overtaken traditional banking systems. It is accepted everywhere, at your local grocery story, bakery or supermarket. There are today even forex brokers in Kenya that work with mpesa.
Conversely, M-Pesas topic derailing bitcoin adoption in Kenya is a valid debate because Kenyans utilize M-Pesa to make payments, transfers, etc. from their mobile devices. This brings the question – why would Kenyans need to use Bitcoin?
Also, because bitcoin wallets, transactions, etc. are managed and carried out via mobile phones, it sure would seem no different from M-Pesa to Kenyans.
But, just to what extent is M-Pesa affecting Bitcoin adoption in Kenya?
M-Pesas Birth And Growth
M-Pesa was founded in 2007, two years before Bitcoin, which was founded in 2009. Hence, the mobile payment system has been around for about 13 years now.
Unlike Bitcoin, M-Pesa was launched by Safaricom, who was the dominant mobile operator at the time. The mobile operator currently owns about 70% of the Kenyan mobile market share, and it is still prevalent. It was easy for already existing Safaricom customers (a massive number of Kenyans) to sign up and start using the new digital payment system.
All they needed was an ID and a mobile phone, which they already had. M-Pesa wasnt an app, as smartphones werent a thing. Instead, users carried out money transactions via SMS. However, five years after the launch, in 2012, Safaricom recorded more than 15 million active M-Pesa accounts.
With time, M-Pesas functionality was extended to loan applications, and that was when lots of busin ...