Kenya leaves Canada in the dust in mobile technology

Kenya leaves Canada in the dust in mobile technology – especially when it comes to mobile money transfers.

Saying that East Africa has surprised and impressed me has to be the understatement of the year. There are more SUV’s per capita in East Africa than in Canada. And everyone, and I do mean everyone, has a cell phone. Many people tend to have two: one for each major network.

But let’s get back to mobile money transfers.

When Zoompass (I do have a Zoompass account) launched in Canada (still in beta) it opened to fanfare and excitement. I thought it was cool that I could use a smartphone to get money form other smartphone users. And I could also send them money.

And yes, I can also transfer money to and from my bank account and Zoompass account.

Then I heard about M-Pesa from my cab driver in Nairobi (he was taking me to a tech meetup where I was to talk about Start-Up Culture, from a Canadian persective). And was I impressed!

M-Pesa is the world’s first mobile money transfer service that allows a user to:

  • deposit money into their bank account from their M-Pesa account
  • deposit CASH into their M-Pesa account without using an ATM
  • withdraw cash from an ATM WITHOUT using an ATM card
  • access cash from an M-Pesa agent
  • pay bills such as utility and health care from their M-Pesa account
  • use their M-Pesa account to purchase more airtime on their mobile phone

And did I mention that this service works on “regular” cell phones? This is not another cool app that is available only on a smartphone. The vast majority of Kenyans don’t use smartphones.

I know! It’s AMAZING to say the least.

So I challenge all of Canada’s telecom companies AND banking instititions: Stop patting yourselves on the back for coming out with iPad apps and mobile websites. I dare you to do something so innovative that everyone from a taxi driver to a CEO will use the service.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to comment below.