Some 194,000 (2% of) households in Kenya have risen above poverty, all thanks to mobile money. That is according to a Thursday, publication by the journal Science in a report titled ‘The long-run poverty and gender impacts of mobile money.’
Women, in particular, have been the primary benefactors of the gains of mobile money, which has led to their families’ living standards improving. Mobile payments has helped many women venture into business, and no longer confined to farming (subsistence farming) to provide for their families.
Reports show that about 93% of Kenyans now use the mobile money services provided by the leading telecom company, Safaricom, dubbed M-Pesa. The entire country has about 2,700 ATMs, their numbers, being a far cry from sufficient to serve the country with a population of more than 40 million people. Access to conventional banking services and ATM is almost non-existent to folks living in the rural areas, and this is where the mobile money comes to the rescue.
Instead of ATMs around the country, Kenya has more of mobile money agents, not less than 110,000 around the country. The agents provide services such as deposit the money into users’ mobile wallets, from which users can send to other users or pay utility bills. When the user wants to withdraw money from the wallet, they can do so with the same agents.
The charge for the service is also affordable for the users. Before mobile payment services were available, it was expensive and slow to send and receive money. Given traditional bank services were inaccessible to the majority of households in Kenya.
Today, a person working in urban areas can send money to his old parents living in the rural homes, or a husband working at an industry send money to his wife back at his rural home via mobile money. Sending and receiving money is as easy as sending and receiving a text message, showing you how much has been deducted from your mobile wallet and deposited to the receiver’s mobile wallet.
Experts estimate that about 2% of households in Kenya have risen out of poverty thanks to the economy growth sparked by mobile money.