Imagine you, the small business owner, having your customers pay you with their cell phone? Imagine having your salary being deposited into a bank account run by your cell phone? Imagine being able to send some money to one of your kids in college, just because you’re a nice parent, with your cell phone. Imagine paying for your groceries, utility bills, rent and get cash with…you guessed it…your cell phone. Imagine, as that small business owner, even receiving more money by accepting these ‘cell phone’ payments than your small business takes in.
That’s the case for Margaret, an owner of a women’s clothing boutique where she earns up to five times more from “M-Pesa” commissions than she does selling women’s clothing and jewelry. And she only paid $20 for a new, great cell phone, with a great calling plan, without a ‘greatly’ complicated multi-year contract from a deceptive cell phone carrier.
I’m sure you have two questions:
Where can I get this? and What is M-Pesa?
M-Pesa is a joint venture between Safaricom and Vodaphone, the “M” stands for mobile and “Pesa” means money in Swahili. And you can get all of this in Kenya.
M-Pesa is so popular in Kenya, that 60 percent of Kenyans rely on M-Pesa to shop, pay all their bills and manage their money. No more credit cards, wads of cash, trying to find that ATM machine, etc. It’s transformed the way Kenyans conduct business, especially considering that before March of 2007, 90% of the Kenyan population NEVER had a bank account!
Why are the cell phones and plans so cheap? This article on NBCNEWS.com gives a brief overview of how cell phone prices and plans have steadily been dropping in Kenya since 2008.
It gives a new, fresh perspective on what we pay for cell phone service. Yes, we can do a lot of the same things with our cell phones as M-Pesa allows Kenyans to do, but have made advancements much quicker and better than much of the world at an obviously much better price.