MPesa mobile money started in Kenya in 2007.

Who leads the world in marketing mobile money?

Mobile money called MPesa handles 1/3 of Kenya's GDP.
Mobile money is most advanced in Kenya, where most adults already use it.

Have you used mobile money − Apple Pay, Facebook Messenger or Google Wallet? I love the convenience of Apple Pay: now it’s easy to pay with an iPhone.

Mobile money may be a shiny new object in the USA, but Kenyans started using it way back in 2007.

In fact, Kenya leads the world in mobile money today. One-third of Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP) flows through mobile money called MPesa − Swahili for “cash.”

MPesa comes from Safaricom, a mobile service provider partly owned by Vodafone. So far MPesa has spread to Afghanistan, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Romania and India, but it’s still most successful in Kenya.

As CMO, Safaricom’s Rita Okuthe helped grow MPesa into the world’s leading mobile money.

CMO Rita Okuthe shares how Safaricom successfully marketed the new idea of mobile money. She tells the MPesa story in my Marketing Upside column in Global Telecoms Business: GTB Safaricom

In the years leading up to MPesa, Safaricom recognized that customers were increasingly using mobile phones to exchange minutes as currency. The question became: how to expand on what customers were already doing?

Safaricom was ready to capitalize on customer behaviors due to its customer-centric approach to strategy and marketing. “We listen to and understand our customers,” Okuthe says. “We speak to each and every customer individually through our products and brand.”

Here are lessons learned from marketing the world’s most successful mobile money:

• Earn and build customers’ trust in your brand.
• Recognize how customers already use your services.
• Get started with a single simple service.
• Make your service as easy as sending a text.
• Make your service cheap, compared to alternatives.
• Reach customers through a huge network of local agents who exchange hard cash and E-float.
• After establishing the first simple service, partner with a bank to expand.
• Imagine how big an impact you can make in a developing economy.

Read the whole MPesa story in Global Telecoms Business (Z-Mag, pages 22-23; registration required) or download a PDF: GTB Safaricom

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