How is Kenya reshaping the way the world pays?
When you think of cutting-edge financial technology, Nairobi probably isn’t the first city to come to mind. It should be. Kenyans pay for just about everything using their mobile phone. It’s home to the world’s most successful mobile payment system: M-Pesa. More than a quarter of the country’s income passes through cell phones--paying for everything from taxi rides to water bills.
The trend is global, with more than 700 billion transactions using digital payment technologies expected to be made by 2020, but countries like Kenya are leading the way in terms of growth and volume. The volume of digital transactions in emerging markets are predicted to grow up to three times as much as more developed economies.
The global nature and localized focus of digital transactions make Kenya a perfect place for us to learn how the world will pay for things in the future. Our journey will explore the history, opportunities and challenges of Kenya’s mobile money movement. We’ll also work to understand how Kenya’s model translates for the rest of the world’s economy and even work on our own related projects.
For the majority of the program we will base ourselves in Nairobi to meet with the different people who make the mobile payment system work and are thinking about what is next. We will spend time at universities, innovation hubs, and even local NGOs getting insight into this systems while we also take field explorations around the city and surrounding areas.
We will meet with mobile money experts from big companies and some small startups and also visit some of the small shops and kiosks that make the system work. We’ll also get a taste for life in Nairobi as we join locals and expats for dinner at some of our favorite spots in the city.
We will take a small city break as we head on a safari in the Masai Mara. Along the way we will stop in the city of Narok and some smaller villages to understand more deeply how mobile Money is a story of urbanization and changing rural lifestyles.
We can adapt this program based on the end objective of our partner. Is the goal to invent or improve a product or service? We can run the program as an Innovation Lab or Global Design Studio. Alternatively for a high school or university program we can use the trip to teach field research and design skills as well.
We can also adapt the program to include more time or immersions in rural Kenya through partnering organizations around the country, and include time working side by side with local shopkeepers and M-Pesa agents around Kenya. We could also include a visit to another East African country, like Tanzania, Uganda or Ethiopia to better understand the Kenyan case study.