Exploring M-PESA in East Africa

Examining the adoption and usage of m-banking in Kenya: The case of M-PESA


This project was funded by Microsoft Research.


This project, funded by Microsoft Research, analyses the adoption and usage of M-PESA, a Kenyan m-banking application. There has also been some attention given to how mobile phone applications, such as ‘m-banking’, can be used to engender local improvements. Many argue that these applications provide new opportunities for low-income individuals to engage in financial transactions and to increase their personal income.  Because m-banking uses the already pervasive mobile phone infrastructure it has the potential for rapid deployment and appropriation. This provides individuals who own mobile phones with revolutionary ways to engage in financial transactions.

Because m-banking has only recently been launched in Africa, the literature on the topic is scarce and its implications have been under-investigated. This project is therefore important in monitoring the variety of ways in which M-PESA is being used by low-income constituents, and explain why the application is being used in these ways.  This project will also explain how such usage may translate to improvements at the local level, and meaningful development throughout Kenya.


This research will be published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at international conferences. The following information will be included:

  • A detailed explication of how M-PESA is being adopted and used by low-income constituents in Kenya.
  • An explanation of the numerous ways in which the initiative is being promoted by the telecommunications companies and development agencies.
  • An analysis of how such usage patterns emerge from institutionalized practices of monetary exchange and remittances.  
  • A delineation of problems that may be faced in the process of learning how to use this application.