Mobile Money: The Economics of M-Pesa

31 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2011 Last revised: 10 Sep 2022

See all articles by William Jack

William Jack

World Bank

Tavneet Suri

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

Date Written: January 2011


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.

Suggested Citation

Jack, William G. and Suri, Tavneet, Mobile Money: The Economics of M-Pesa (January 2011). NBER Working Paper No. w16721, Available at SSRN:

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 )

100 Main Street
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

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