Mobile Money in the Last Mile of Kenya

2 minute read

The Brookings Institute’s Financial and Digital Inclusion Project named Kenya as the top scoring country in the world for financial inclusion based on country commitment, mobile capacity, regulatory environment and adoption of traditional and digital financial services. Yet, SIMLab’s efforts to introduce to mobile money to organizations in rural Kenya have encountered significant barriers to adoption and sustained use by organizations and end-users alike.

Today, we are releasing our case study, Implementing a Mobile Money Management Tool and Training Approach in the Last Mile, which reviews our experience implementing a mobile money software tool in rural Kenya, for a project cofunded by UK Department for International Development (DFID) through the Global Poverty Action Fund (GPAF). The project worked with 40 NGOs and SACCOs (Savings and Credit Cooperatives) in rural Kenya to make the transition from cash to mobile money in a country where 90% of households have used mobile money services. Despite this, we found that last-mile organizations are not simply awaiting a platform that suits their technical needs to incorporate digital cash into their daily business activities. Rather, complex human, organizational and environmental challenges raise serious questions about the ‘build it, and they will come’ philosophy that has driven much of the mMoney space over the last ten years.

To discuss this case study and the challenges that others have faced in the space, we are hosting an event today, September 4th, at the OpenGovHub in Washington DC. If you’re in DC, you can come by, or you can follow us on Twitter, where @SIMLab will be tweeting about it under the hashtag #lastmilemoney. We also have limited slots for a live-streaming webinar, which you can RSVP for at the above link.

In addition to Kelly Church, SIMLab’s Project Director, the event will also feature Leo Tobias, Technology Team Manager at Grameen Foundation, presenting on their work in Uganda; Sean McDonald, CEO of FrontlineSMS, reflecting on the very real obstacles caused by fractured operator, handset and software markets; and Kay McGowan, Digital Finance Team Lead at USAID, who will offer her reflections and responses to the panelists’ presentations, and share some of the direction of USAID policy as the mMoney field approaches its ninth year. Together the panel will hopefully shed light on mobile money efforts within and beyond Kenya, and look critically at what is being done and what needs to be done at the technology and policy level to ensure the next five years will bring greater, more widespread and engaged adoption of mobile financial services.