Tavneet Suri of MIT and Billy Jack of Georgetown have resurveyed ~2,000 Kenyan households about their perceptions and use of the M-PESA phone-based money transfer service. The first survey took place in the fall of 2008; this one took place in fall 2009. The results are just out. Here is a summary from Daniel Radcliffe of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation:

  • M-PESA is rapidly propagating down market to poorer, less educated, more rural customers. In the 10-month period between the two survey rounds, the percentage of households using M-PESA increased from 43% to 70%. During this period, the percentage of M-PESA users who were unbanked increased from 25% to 50%, while the percentage of rural users increased from 29% to 41%.
  • Agents are working better, and liquidity issues are sorting themselves out. A much larger percentage of users in Round 2 trust their agent (95%) than did users in Round 1 (65%), even while the number of agents quadrupled during the 10-month period from 4,000 to 16,000. Also, in Round 2, only 5% of users were unable to withdraw money from an agent during their last two transactions compared with 16% in Round 1 (though this question changed slightly between the two rounds).
  • Awareness is almost 100%- The percentage of households who don’t know about M-PESA fell from 18% in Round 1 to 3% in Round 2.
  • Customers continue to value the service very highly. When asked about the hypothetical impact of MPESA closing down, a higher percentage of users in Round 2 (92%) said that it would have a large and negative on their lives than did users in Round 1 (85%).
  • Increased use for saving- The percentage of users who use M-PESA for saving increased from 75% in Round 1 to 81% in Round 2. And the percentage of households saving on MPESA for emergencies increased from 12% to 22%.


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