Stereotypes and reality
So-called Third World countries are often seen as backward and the Maasai, an East African nomadic people, is considered by many to be the epitome of the Stone Age nomadic way of life.
In fact, the Masai traditionally have little stone age, since they had, for example, blacksmiths and cattle. That clichés do not always have to be right, we have not known since the satirical heating collection campaign that South Africans organized for Norway.
Innovation instead of Steinzeitdorf
Because even if we have visited such a Stone Age nomadic village, Kenya as far as the mobile, cashless payment by mobile phone, far ahead of us; I was able to convince myself of that during my last visit:
Bank vending machines or even stores are sought in vain in the vast steppe. But there are M-PESA agents in almost every settlement along the dusty dirt roads - as here in Mbirikani, which is mostly operated by Maasai.
What is M-PESA and how does it work?
M-PESA was introduced by the Kenyan mobile phone company Safaricom, meanwhile a Vodafone subsidiary, beginning 2007 in Kenya. With this system, the Kenyans can perform basic functions of money transfer and private cashless payment via mobile phones without the need for a regular bank account. Uta Hergenroether describes this in detail Better Place Lab:
"Anyone who has a cell phone or knows someone who has one and can send and receive text messages can use M-PESA. Customers who want to transfer money can register for free at Safaricom for the M-PESA service and customize their SIM card. Then they get a PIN for their phone number, which is needed for each transaction. Now money can be charged as needed and sent or received via encrypted SMS for a small fee within your own country. Here, the deposit and "storage" of money on the phone is free. For cash payment you look for so-called M-PESA, the full-time Internet cafe owners, gas station or pharmacy owners can be. These paid a one-time fee to Safaricom for the operator license (and associated IT device). There are now almost 40.000 of these agents in Kenya, who also offer their own mobile services to money-backers who are not themselves M-Pesa customers. "
The economic miracle of Kenya
The easy handling (overview of all functions thanks to the very readable posts with comments by Andreas Fischler) should be the reason for that, one follows Spiegel Online, an economic miracle has broken out in Kenya. The people save money and Women start business, which is like a small revolution.
15 million users has M-PESA meanwhile, which are around 80% of the mobile customers. Vodafone wants to export the successful model also into other countries. For comparison, only 15% of adults have a bank account at all.
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