The launch of M-Pesa in 2007 by telecom firms Safaricom and Vodafone made Kenya a leader in expanding the financial inclusion of poorer people as the global pioneer of phone-based banking: a cheaper, more efficient, and accessible alternative to traditional payments services. By 2012, around 17m M-Pesa accounts had been opened in Kenya, allowing users to make deposits, store money on their phone, and make payments via SMS message.

The service has since expanded to countries such as Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa, Egypt and Afghanistan. All over the world, perhaps inspired to some degree by the success of M-Pesa, mainstream financial services firms now offer their customers mobile phone-based banking.


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