M-Pesa, Vodacom, Nedbank and Rob Shuter
I’ve not seen anything obvious in the press, and have quite possibly missed it, but this week a couple of pieces of the puzzle dropped into place. Enter M-Pesa.
M-Pesa is an amazing Kenyan innovation, and describe themselves as:
M-PESA is a Safaricom service allowing you to transfer money using a mobile phone. Kenya is the first country in the world to use this service, which is offered in partnership between Safaricom and Vodafone. M-PESA is available to all Safaricom subscribers (Prepay and Postpay), even if you do not have a bank account. Registration is FREE and available at any M-PESA Agent countrywide. The M-PESA application is installed on your SIM card and works on all makes of handsets.
My sources suggest that M-Pesa has radically transformed the banking space in Kenya and left the banks flat-footed and out of the equation. Around 15 million people use M-Pesa to transfer money and make payments. Kenyan banks (collectively) have a third of this number as customers. M-Pesa has transformed banking access to the previously un-banked, who are found predominately in rural areas in Kenya. Areas that traditional banks have little to no access to.
The person I spoke to this week had some of the following to say about M-Pesa:
M-Pesa has made the sim card more valuable than a credit card.
M-Pesa is transforming how aid is distributed within Kenya.
M-Pesa has fundamentally re-defined the banking space.
Kenyan banks have not found an ‘anti-dote’ to M-Pesa’s presense, and possibly wont or can’t, simply because they’re unable to redefine themselves.
Maybe a little over-enthusiastic. But the hype and the numbers do confirm his thoughts.
Enter Shuter, Vodacom and Nedbank….
What if Vodacom’s next move is to bring M-Pesa to South Africa? Both Safaricom (M-Pesa’s master) and Vodacom are subsidiaries of Vodaphone. Certainly they have someone with huge retail banking experience in Shuter, and he has intimate knowledge and I imagine a solid relationship with Nedbank.
What if? Watch this space. This may be what happens after what comes next…..