CLIMBING THE LADDER FROM THE TOP DOWN

I am among the lucky few.. in fact am the only lucky African to have been involved in the early stages of mobile money transfer in Kenya way back in 2005. I get to see things differently in the mobile money sphere. I have two comparisons when it comes to Mobile Money Transfer.. let me be clear. I am an advocate of mobile money transfer, not mobile payments not financial services.. Mobile Money Transfer..if you chose to put it under financial services, no fights, if you choose to classify it under mobile payments no problem I understand fully. Mobile Money Transfer and especially M-PESA kicked a revolution. For M-PESA we climbed the ladder from down going up.. we started with the basic  “Send Money Home”. We made people understand that cash had changed its name to “float”. Kenyans have a way of making their own english. Most shops in Kenya now sell a commodity called “float” not electronic value:) some shops also sell “hakuna ” meaning nothing..this is how the conversation in the village shop goes  ” Uko na float” meaning do you have e-lectronic value and there is no doubt that it is M-PESA float. and the agent will say ” iko”( i have) or “Hakuna” meaning we dont have. Despite selling hakuna and float..  the common man knows what this convinience can do  and has done for them..it is a way of life.. “float ” is everything. Where did this word come from?? Float… am still floating… now let me take you 5 countries away and we land in the land of yams. Here we are climbing the ladder from up to down. The developers instead of developing a system that starts with the basics and goes up have done what they think is clever… they have developed what we call in East Africa” mchanganyiko maalum” meaning mixed grill.Take Mobile Money Transfer and baptise it to Mobile Payments .. and put another name of Financial services, etc..and what are you left with.. a mixture of right intentions done the wrong way. Mobile Money Transfer has been taken too seriously with no careful thought here in West Africa. You cannot bring all forms of Technology to a country that is known to value cash.. sometimes i think the companies are targeting the expatriates who need to pay bills and not the unbanked and underbanked Nigerian. In my opinion all the systems are good..integrating everything into one platform at once.But sometimes too much of everything is dangerous. Are we greedy? Are we lost? are we overambitious? but the biggest question is .. are we really bringing financial Inclusion to the unbanked and underbanked? Something does not feel right here in West Africa… Something is wrong.. the Agency hierarchies are wrong….the biggest success factor is wrong..  will they listen???
yours truly Cathy– committed to financial inclusion of unbanked and under banked people.

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