Five years after its launch, the word “M-PESA” is routinely used as a verb in Kenya, so it’s only fitting that the service is now the subject of a book. ‘Money, Real Quick: The Story of M-PESA’ is a new book written by Tonny Omwansa and Nicholas Sullivan with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, and it offers a comprehensive look at Kenya’s incredibly successful mobile money service.
Nearly everybody working in payments or development is aware of M-PESA and its success: the service provided by Safaricom is now used by 15 million Kenyans, facilitates an incredible US$1.4 billion in payments per month, and, for good reason, has become a darling of the Economist and subject of countless case studies.
Omwansa and Sullivan’s ambitious new book is a must-read for anybody with an interest in this space: it chronicles the development of M-PESA from its original conception as a tool for microfinance customers to make loan repayments to the current day, along the way describing in impressive detail how the service actually works at an operational level and the way that it changes lives. Of course, its impossible to tell the story of M-PESA without mentioning the wave of innovation that has ensued since the service launched, and the authors do spend considerable time describing Musoni, Jipange Kusave, Kopo Kopo, Bima, and other ground-breaking services.
Perhaps the most powerful (and entertaining) parts of the book are the first hand perspectives shared by the team who brought the service to market: the journey taken by Nick Hughes, Susie Lonie, Pauline Vaughan, Michael Joseph and others is well documented, and their personal insights and lessons learned are invaluable. Thousands of people have already paid to attend global conferences to gain access to these insights, and now they can be yours for the low price of $3.99.