By Hong Zhu
M-PESA, the hugely popular mobile money system in Kenya, has been celebrated for its potential to “bank the unbanked” and increase access to financial services. This paper provides evidence to support this idea and explores mechanisms through which this might be the case. It specifically looks at the savings products held by individuals and how this changes in relation to M-PESA use. It then constructs an index for measuring the extent to which individuals are integrated into the formal financial sector. This paper argues that M-PESA’s effect on financial inclusion is a growing phenomenon, which suggests that keeping pace with the rapid evolutions of this mobile money system should be a high priority for researchers. As this paper elucidates, M-PESA has become notably more integrated with the formal financial sector in 2013 as compared to 2009, which holds implications for user behavior.
Advisor: Michelle Connolly, Xiao Yu Wang | JEL Codes: D14, E42, G21, G23, O1, O17, O16, O33 | Tagged: Financial Inclusion, Mobile Money, Savings,Technology