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Pomona College

Publication Date

Fall 2011

Program Name

Kenya: Islam and Swahili Cultural Identity


Launched in early 2007 by Safaricom, Kenya’s leading mobile service provider, the M-PESA mobile money transfer service has met with unparalleled consumer adoption and rapidly revolutionized money transfer throughout Kenya. Seen as the “mobile money success story,” the service allows users to transfer money to any other mobile phone user in the country instantly using even the most basic mobile telephones, and has become a model for the development of similar systems around the globe. The result of one month of full-time archival research and field work, this study presents a history of the development and acceptance of M-PESA by placing it in context with other money transfer services and methods, examines the service’s present-day use in three towns in Kenya’s Coast Province through interviews with more than 30 participants, and concludes by developing culturally-contextualized recommendations for future service offerings and improvements.



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