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Mobile Money: The Economics of M-Pesa

William Jack

World Bank

Tavneet Suri

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

January 2011

NBER Working Paper No. w16721

Mobile money is a tool that allows individuals to make financial transactions using cell phone technology. In this paper, we report initial results of two rounds of a large survey of households in Kenya, the country that has seen perhaps the most rapid and widespread growth of a mobile money product - known locally as M‐PESA - in the developing world. We first summarize the mechanics of M-PESA, and review its potential economic impacts. We then document the sequencing of adoption across households according to income and wealth, location, gender, and other socio‐economic characteristics, as well as the purposes for which the technology is used, including saving, sending and receiving remittances, and direct purchases of goods and services. In addition, we report findings from a survey of M‐PESA agents, who provide cash‐in and cash‐out services, and highlight the inventory management problems they face.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 31

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Date posted: January 31, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Jack, William and Suri, Tavneet, Mobile Money: The Economics of M-Pesa (January 2011). NBER Working Paper No. w16721. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1749882

Contact Information

William G. Jack (Contact Author)
World Bank ( email )
1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States
Tavneet Suri
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )
77 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

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