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I was lucky to have worked on M-PESA, Lucky to have worked with Vodafone and Sagentia team, I am lucky to have worked for Glo in the Mobile Money Department, Lucky to have worked with Kabira Team now Tibco, Lucky to have interacted with Gemalto all the while, Lucky to have worked with Fortis Mobile Money, Cellulant, Sterling Bank, EFina, Central Bank of Nigeria, Comviva and Airtel Money, Ezee Money kenya, Iceni and Bank of Khartoum  and more importantly worked with Angie and Abbie in my Company Red Ant.  I can only say that I have seen all the Mobile payments around and about.

Through all this bounty of luck,I have met amazing people, encountered amazing challenges and learnt  so much to last me  my lifetime.
Through it all I have learnt what works, what can work and what will not work. But all I can say is that Mobile payments or any payments deployment is not as complicated as you think. Remember the end user is a customer who owns a mobile phone which most probably is not android or Blackberry.
You have got to think before you plunge in the payment arena most importantly keep it simple. Bill Gates and others are successful because they made it simple. M-PESA kept it simple. All successful inventions aimed at the common man are always simple. You identify a need, find a solution and keep it simple and most important listen to great advice.
I have seen companies sink deep in this payment industry by doing what they should never have even started. Employing 10 directors to run your mobile payment is a load of foolishness. 
Lets have a look at how M-PESA was made
Vodafone contracts Sagentia, Sagentia develop the system, vodafone sends a project Manager to Kenya to pilot, Project Manager ( Susie) gets one more person ( me) from Safaricom. Safaricom supports us and gives me and Susie two chairs and a corner to run our business.   Pilot runs successfuly, Pilot closes, launch preparations, still Me and Susie in Kenya, A team in UK sagentia and Vodafone supervision. 
A Key Accounts manager and product developer for kenya side is hired, an operations manager and a hod, Two trainers from safaricom call center…. Launch. 
Team had like 10 chairs and a small corner open office.
Thats all you need folks.. a small team, a great platform and a passion to drive the service to the people.
Hopefully you will relook your resource and realign. Stop trying fitting a square peg in a round hole… just start afresh.
Have a financially included day!


Getting back home after 3 years in Lagos was no mean fete. I have grown as a person, a lot of things in my life make more sense than they did 3 years ago.  M-PESA was all lived for back then,  thanks to Safaricom. Safaricom was a learning pad but i have learnt and grown. Its not a place to stay any longer after your learnings. M-PESA was great and continues to be.

Yes I am back by choice. Globacom taught me so much. Thank you so much Cesar Camara, Nicholas Eneje, Adewale Sangowawa and not forgetting the mighty bull.. Dr Mike Adenuga Jnr. Your teachings  and how you run your company might not be so attractive in the beginning but whoever learns the true lesson of who you want to be..becomes better much better after Globacom. I never had fairy tale dream house or a car.  But the lessons learnt at Glo made me who I am today. To Globacom and Dr Adenuga, I salute you! Thank you for changing my life forever, financially, mentally am well rounded to face the world. You removed the fear from me… I face the world courageously.

Back to Kenya, I see things more clearly, the con games, the users, the business opportunities, the friends and the foes. I have learnt when to stay and when to run.  Despite the huge M-PESA success, both agents and customers have enjoyed what we created years ago. But just like Kanu…. slowly but surely a revolution is inevitable in terms of new mobile money deployments. Kenyans are disgruntled but i guess they are pretty used to taking what they have and shutting up. Safaricom knows this and therefore does not care much.
I got a bit shocked when 6 years after leaving M-PESA  an agent calls me asking for my help. I jogged my mind and took them through the M-PESA system and they were able to sort out a simple problem of the Primary till. I asked myself, if this small problem took my effort to resolve… what exactly are agents going through?

Time to do something about this.This is not the vision we had for the Kenyan people. Agents sound like beggars. I call them ” The safaricom Investor Beggars”

Will talk about these beggars in another day, another time..for now, time to deliver a true financial inclusion platform to the Kenyans. It will not matter which network you will be in or whether you are offline or online. You will be able to Send money, pay your bills , bank your money, and all you ever dreamt of…

Till then… its my opinion as usual


Confusion has even escalated , all the terminology is sending all the Mobile Money Operators in Nigeria into a dizzy spell…Initially they wanted Mobile Money Transfer…so Central Bank issued them with Mobile Money Transfer licences. Then the strategy went haywire… the market got flooded with all kinds of terminology..

Now I hear Mobile banking, is going to drive mobile money transfer… eish am tired… how is the banked person going to build the unbanked?

If you have been in Nigeria long enough you will know that those who have dont care about the have nots…
have you not seen big jeeps being followed by chase cars? have you not seen Nigerians scavenging and begging for food? Dont you know that Nigeria is a big oil exporter?

How then is a banked person going to drive mobile money?? its like saying the House help dictates the shopping budget!

Its twisted…. They are my forgotten people.. hopefully God will remember them in this split world of the haves and the havenots…

We shall bank them eventually…even if it takes 10 yrs.


In this race to bring financial inclusion to unbanked people with most companies using greed for money as the basis of their product roll out.. they are currently planting orange trees in readiness to get a good yield of mangoes.

The only way to reach financially excluded people in the world in todays date is through a simple China made phone( who doesn’t love those cheap locally available shiny chinese phones??)  And to do this only Mobile Money Transfer systems will provide for these services until the unbanked populace understand that all you need is their valuable asset – the phone.
The reason why am writing this is because…  mobile money transfer companies are making a huge mistake of purchasing mobile banking platforms for mobile money transfer, and that is why they will never see any significant success in deployment of the service.

The vendors of the mobile banking platforms as usual come and dump their non conforming platforms that are modification of airtime distribution systems.. after all Africa is the dumping ground.. and as long as something is from the west…it must be good

I applaud Stanbic IBTC, Paga, and others for striving to have an inhouse platform …Keep going keep strong…eventually you will get there…

Financial Inclusion for all….  see you there


” God lives in Nigeria and visits other countries” Otherwise how would you explain a place where every household stores not less than 10 litres of petrol next to the residence.. surely God holds Nigeria on his palm..because if he lived elsewhere things would get worse.  This is just me being me never mind.

You know you have adjusted to Lagos life when you start having a conversation with the “gate man”. Gate Men are usually watchmen ( as we call them in Eastern Part of Africa), usually from the Northern part of Nigeria, its just like we brand our Luyha brothers back home as “cooks and watchmen” Its just that the Hausa people of the North are branded Gate men here in Lagos.. probably because they are the most honest and trusted batch.
When you can have a conversation with a gate man that means that you are a Lagos gal. You understand a bit of the complexities around the Rich and the poor in Nigeria. I consider myself clever enough because I understand the lifestyle a bit better.
Why am I giving you all these Lagos Stories? because am tired of hearing ” Nigeria is different from Kenya, don’t give us that M-PESA story, it can never work in Nigeria” I have been here long enough and I have seen the various mobile money deployments and now understand why Nigeria is different. Nigeria is different from Kenya because they are not taking the steps to mobile money success seriously. 
Let me explain.
In Kenya the M-PESA success was not created from pure greed and rush from seeing other successful deployment. Back then Susie, Sagentia,Safaricom had no white papers to refer to. Sagentia built the system by coming over to Kenya and studying the way Kenyans do things, their psychology, the escalation systems. They then crafted and built an amazing system. 
There was funding from DFID. Safaricom did its part but there was funding 
When we( Walter, Jackie, Mercy, Angie and Gerry) Built the most notable Mobile Money Agent Network, there was no CGAP white paper. I remember many consultants coming over asking us a few questions and then off they went.. Do you really think they gathered all info in 2 weeks stints in Kenya to guide Nigeria into success…
The proverbial fox…when he tried to reach the red, yummy strawberries and couldn’t reach them… he went away cursing that they were not ripe and were not sweet.
You have criticized the Kenyan Model, you have said its Telco led, you have said there was no regulation…But do you know that M-PESA submits Agency and Transaction reports every month to CBK? did you? Did you know that the system is sooo good its just a click of a button and you have all the reports?
M-PESA is still not adaptable to Nigerian market? 
What is the difference between the Agency Models in Kenya and the confused models in Nigeria?
Sometimes it makes me sick when I go to conferences and I hear ” merchant agent, Agent merchant, Mega Agent, Super Agent, Agent …
The same unbanked customer in Kenya, Is the same unbanked Nigerian, The same cash in cash out, is the same one here… am yet to see a different menu that is Nigerian…and not copy paste from the mpesa menu… the same marketing gimmicks are now all over… the flying kenya money from son to mother in the advert is the same flying Naira i see.. the same phone with peeking notes is the same picture i see everywhere..
Get real and stop pretending to reinvent the wheel… Sagentia, Safaricom and Vodafone Invented the mobile Money Wheel and did so well.. deal with it, Learn and make a better one but dont keep on saying..It cant work for Nigeria.
Enough of the usual Rant and Rave… Stop thinking that White papers will guide you to develop better systems like M-PESA. Get the right resource to help you… or are you too proud??
Money has been spent, systems have been built… how many people have we brought into the financial inclusion space since last year September? something is wrong but i still have hope for the nigerian people… I have hope for my gate man and I have hope for the Okada Man..
I will stay strong for a while longer if this will enable my Gate man save and send money back home to Kaduna.
Always passionate, Always to the point saying what you will not say ….. …Talk to us we could save your mobile money deployment


I fell in Love with the mobile phone years ago …or we say in Lagos meaning way way back..this English:) That was when I first saw a neighbor with a huge phone( size of the current Galaxy note). History repeats itself..first there was this huge mobile phone with initials KP &TC meaning Kenya Post and Telecommunications — we have come from far.. then the size reduced with class…to small Nokia phones…then again human being realised that bigger is better …and Ipad, Iphone…. Steve Jobs…God bless your soul…we went to HTC sensation, Desire… things got a little sexy here and now the big thing is …Galaxy Note…this phone reminds me of my neighbors KP&TC  fred Flintstones mobile phone:)
Does size matter???? no! as long as its a mobile phone.
I fell more and more in love with this gadget…and when M-PESA was introduced by Susie Lonie and Nick Hughes in Kenya, I was completely, deeply, hopelessly in love… thats the love that built M-PESA…
Whats the point ? you ask… the point is this is the easiest way to deliver the financial inclusion dream… Kenya has struck oil, Konza city is on track…..
I see the mobile phone playing a very huge role in our economy in the coming decades… The mobile phone through M-PESA has put Kenya on a good Map.. we are normally known for hunger and starvation, biggest slum in Kenya, corruption… Look at us now !! We have won awards…we have empowered our people..we are the Mecca of Mobile Money… We dont just have elephants and Zebras….we have M-PESA!
Everyday they ask… how come the others are not as successful as M-PESA ? The world Unbanked need M-PESA replica but how do we plan to achieve this especially in West Africa. Dont tell me that its different… its not .. there might be slight differences but the road is the same… all we need to do in West Africa is take time to learn… Kenya is willing to teach you…are you ready to listen? Are you ready to go through Agency Structure building? Route to Market? Paygw configuration ?
Go to Iceni Mobile…the makers of M-PESA. Talk to Susie Lonie.. the perfect Mobile Money Project Manager… J Barasa on how the agency shops should be branded and trained…and Catherine is waiting to take you through Agency structuring, recruitment and Management…… till then …we might have to continue singing M-PESA ,…M-PESA…….
its my opinion:)

Any Hope for Nigeria??

I am still so proud of the team that I worked with on M-PESA, sadly nobody mentions them thats why I keep honouring them …Susie Lonie..the perfect mobile money project Manager, Lesley Ann Vaughan, Tim Murdoch, Andrew Measures, Chris bowley, Steve woolfries..and Papa M-PESA Nick Hughes.   Things were so structured and Kenya offered them the right atmosphere …Safaricom supported us during this time. 

I could go on and on on the past but let me skip years after to West Africa. 
I had a dream for the Nigeria people. On arrival I hoped that we had everything in place as a Telco..We scoped,  developed, Installed…this time it was with Eric, Craig, Sarah, Phillip of Tibco.. then the regulation slapped us on the face… No TELCO LED.
I was mad…who advised these people? how can people who have for so long refused to go to banking halls come to your banking halls now because of mobile money..??
I have not stopped and will not stop asking the logic behind  Central Bank of Nigeria, trusting independent operators to run mobile money and not trusting telcos who for so long have catered for millions of subscribers under their care. 
I still firmly believe that we got it wrong here in Nigeria. You want to run a mobile money service…read the word mobile …derived from a mobile handset/phone it means that there is a simcard inside…
who better understands the mobile phone better than a telco.. what do banks know about mobile phone.. even their mobile banking runs on the Telco platform.
We got it wrong lets admit it, lets licence the Telcos. Licences were issued in September last year and because all licenced operators rely on the telcos …the process of getting financial inclusion has stalled. 
Central Bank and Nigerian communications commission need to swallow their pride and issue licences to Telcos. If they believe truly in Financial Inclusion.There is nothing wrong with M-PESA and Safaricom. The people of Kenya are happy, the Central bank has reports every month… whats the difference??? an independent operator in nigeria will definitely have the agents deposit cash with the settlement bank …same as M-PESA . 
Central Bank, Was it fear that made you make this grave mistake… why are you killing the financial inclusion dream I had??
Its my opinion:) 


From way back in 2005 when I visited a pilot Agent in Thika Town a few Kilometers from Nairobi City, I instantly knew the power of that person. The Agent. When Faulu clients on M-PESA pilot back then recieved their loans on their mobile phones, the only place they could cash it out was at Superiorfones Thika.. Virtual Mobiles next door were not a passionate as Superiorfone.  A lot has happened since those Thika days. Agency business changed from begging business people to become agents to the Business people begging us to become agents. Now allow me to jump to the state we are today in Kenya.
An agent who started with 100, 0000 Kenya Shillings in 2007 probably has made a few more shillings from commissions. Safaricom is no longer advertising “Tuma pesa kwa simu” they are now having a whole lot of Utility payments and merchant payments. All these payments point to one person “the Agent”. A lot of conferences have been done, A lot of grants have  been issued, I have not heard any that targets the agents. Agents are currently the sole suppliers of electronic value in the whole of Kenya.  I still call them “My Agents”. My M-PESA Agents face animosity from the business they serve. It takes ages to unlock their passwords, It takes ages to relocate their tills from one point to another, Nobody bothers to know why they dont have float..even the same safaricom that has burdened them with a whole lot of liquidity requirements. Safaricom is just happy to advertise “lipa karo na M-PESA” ” pay for goods with M-PESA” Pay for movie tickets with M-PESA.  Safaricom, your business has grown… stop and ask yourselves where this M-PESA you are telling people to pay Kenya Airways, Kenya Power, Nairobi Water, School fees, Insurance etc is going to come from.. Is it the same agent who was walking a tight rope trying to supply electronic value to your 2million M-PESA customers  that is going to walk tighter to supply 15 million with electronic value to enable your services to be used. I am not impressed by Safaricom.. because instead of looking at areas or partnerships that can help fund the electronic value for Agents and thus move their business further…they threaten them with closure, Never answer their calls, they are a desperate lot now.  having to move around the same 100,000 Shillings by running from shop to super agent  and losing all commission  on the way!
Safaricom lets look at the reason why, the solutions are many..but  I dont think it is right to threaten agents, close their shops. Instead, lets look for ways to manage liquidity and get Agents funded.
Agents are the only reason M-PESA is successful. Never forget that. Be Kind to them
I am  and will always be an evangelist for financial Inclusion through creation of sustainable Agency Networks


I am continuously trying to understand the purpose of things and in my quest  I try to imagine being the other person. I am still trying to comprehend how the hyped Mobile Money is going to work out in Nigeria.
There are a few questions in my mind everyday.

  1. I struggle to remember the numerous USSD and SMS shortcodes
  2. I have not seen any agent outlets near where I live
  3. None of the applications is translated to Hausa/Yoruba or Igbo ( the three main languages) 
  4. I have not seen or been part of a Below the Line Activation
And I am asking, Do I live in an exclusive area? I dont think so because there is hardly any electricity. I am a normal Nigerian trying to smile behind the suffering. After all Eko O ni baje ooo:) ( meaning Lagos will not spoil)
Are we going to see the M-PESA and now Tangaza phenomenon…oh you have not heard of the new M-PESA? Kenyans we are peculiar like Micheal said.. we will now call Tangaza Mobile Money – “Ile M-PESA mpya.” meaning the New M-PESA. I miss home already!
Well I am still very hopefull especially when I hear the “pocket Moni ” advertisements on the radio in the morning and see the lagos buses nicely branded. With the best catch phrase ” send money for free”. Melts my heart. I saw eTranzact from far.. Our love affair began when I first saw the application. This is a next generation application. I salute Sir Valentine Obi. Excellent application once more
My love affair with eTranzact aside..there is another potential in this market… Fortis Mobile Money.. problem is this great initiative is tucked away in Abuja. Despite being a flight away..this initiative has the potential of getting to the unbanked and underbanked  in a major way. Reason being.. they have an understanding of Microfinance… perfect recipe for success when trying to reach unbanked and underbanked Nigerians. I am however not sure if the Fundamo is gonna be able to compete with home made eTranzact near perfect killer app. Hopefully the two can find a way to work together..After all Nigeria is the land of possibilities..
 There is huge progress in the direction of cashless ( or is it cash lite Nigeria) never mind we are all confused… we have not yet differentiated between mobile banking and mobile money transfer and now CBN adds  another nightmare  Cash Lite.. give us time to digest all these names first.
My wish everyday is to bring real and true financial inclusion to my brothers and sisters in Nigeria. The conditions here are the same like those in Kenya.. why then is this taking too long to get some form of financial inclusion to the nigerian people? Is it the regulation?
Big question is ” why are telcos not allowed to operate mobile money in Nigeria when small unknown  enterprises are trusted with peoples money? Anyway Nigeria is a unique place…
Lets see if we can get to differentiate mobile banking from Mobile Money Transfer….then we can start talking about financial inclusion.
Till then.. we need loads of luck to get there.. Banks have forgotten mobile money and now running helter skelter with POS… whatever you do licencees just give us the service, recruit Agents and lets start using our  China model phones to do transactions..
Till then I have gone Cash lite, Cash less  etc


After years of courting Central Bank Of Nigeria,, the bride finally got a nod.. and what a mad rush…
The whistle had been blown and the race begun in all directions.
Here we are today and I have not seen a single Agent  where I live.. not that I live in the middle of nowhere… But, I have seen so much branding you would think you have reached Tom Mboya Street in Nairobi… Any one aspiring to roll out Mobile Money Transfer must visit Tom Mboya Street… This is a street where you can do any amount of Cash In, Cash out,  registration is water under the bridge..done in less than 1 minute as long as you have the documentation.. and M-PESA is accepted here.  In Tom Mboya especially you can shop for anything using M-PESA.  When can I hope to see this in Nigeria?  Too much money is spent for media coverage.. before you go to the media my dear licensees please think about the Agency drama that awaits you.. This is not Kenya where Agents specialise in one product ..either M-PESA, MOBIKASH, TANGAZA OR AIRTEL MONEY. Here the rule is One agent Serves all… You come with your product lets say ” U-MO” or e-tranzact or Ecobank mobile, Fortis Mobile Money… now  the thing is all these products are either using Java, Ussd or Wap…. ehe like we say in Naija… which means if the agent is very clever..they will just buy a java enabled phone for the application that has only java access and then they can use USSD for the rest.. assuming this Agent is brighter than the Governor I saw last night on the apprentice…( cant  sms or even log onto a laptop)   So  we rule out the java for my mother in Ekiti who apparently wants to be an agent but only knows how to make voice calls… what am I saying? Picture this..  An agent will have 16 applications on her phone( she can choose to have 16 phones each for every service).  now in walks a customer asking for service 3 . .. for this drama refer to my earlier blog..  Allow me to proceed with the evalue reconciliation nightmare 🙂 do we really expect one agent to have over 16 wallets and manage them efficiently? just asking:) then comes liquidity management.. you can argue that they are able to manage scratch cards…but remember an Airtel card is clearly Red, Glo Dark Green you cant even confuse with Etisalat Green..
Now lets reconcile 16 electronic value accounts at the close of every day… how much commission are you giving me? where is the insurance for the cash in my shop?  Where is the free customer care line? and the Agent in Kaduna will say let me focus on my egg selling business.. We need to think of ways to push this product in a workable way..Nigeria is big and waiting lets think out of the box… there are so many business men and women waiting for opportunities to invest in this huge business..lets think  about them…. and the thinking continues…………… There is a light somewhere… i see it do you?