Understanding the Mobile Money Customer: an Interview with John the Taxi Driver

The video interview below was conducted with John, a Nairobi taxi driver and regular user of M-PESA. Seema Desai and I quizzed him about why he uses M-PESA, what he would improve, and whether he has ever had difficulties sending or withdrawing money via an agent. We recognize that John is just one customer, so to provide some context we have overlaid his comments with key findings from a survey conducted by FSD Kenya of 3,000 M-PESA customers.

In many ways, John is a ‘typical’ customer: He uses the service to provide regular support to his parents who live 400km away from Nairobi. Before M-PESA, he would send money using friends or bus drivers. Like 70% of current M-PESA customers, he also has a bank account. He considers M-PESA to be cheaper and easier than his previous alternatives and is highly satisfied with the service

In the coming weeks and months, the GSMA will provide additional insight into early adopters of mobile money. This stream of work is designed to help existing deployments accurately understand their customers so that they can adjust where needed to drive adoption – particularly in the unbanked segment. Additionally, operators in other markets who have yet to launch can use the findings to ensure offerings are designed with unbanked customer needs in mind.

Immediate next steps in this work stream include a presentation from Caroline Pulver, FSD Kenya, at the MMU working group in Barcelona to provide the full survey results. Additionally, I will present the findings of a CGAP-GSMA survey conducted in the Philippines, which provides an in-depth analysis of Filipino mobile money customers. Analysis and findings of both surveys will be presented in the 2009 MMU Annual Report, to be released 24 June, 2009.

Note: headphones are suggested, as the audio quality is somewhat low.

Let us know what you think. How does John compare to mobile money customers in other countries? 2 million unbanked customers already use M-PESA – will this segment be a growth driver going forward? Beyond environmental factors, what elements of M-PESA’s service design have contributed to its adoption rate? Will Zap adoption chart a similar course in Kenya? Comments are open below.

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