The story of mobile money is one that turns during crises. In Kenya in 2008, violence broke out after a disputed election the year before. As supporters of the rival candidates clashed on the streets, ordinary folk were afraid to go out. Many started sending money to each other by phone using a newfangled service called m-Pesa. The habit stuck. Today m-Pesa is the most celebrated mobile-money service in the world. It processes 11bn transactions a year and has spawned imitators across Africa and farther afield.
Could covid-19 have a similar catalytic effect in other countries? In Rwanda the number of mobile-money transfers doubled in the week after a lockdown was imposed in March, according to data collected by the telecommunications regulator and analysed by Cenfri, a South African think-tank. By late April users were making 3m transactions a week, five times the pre-pandemic norm (see chart). The value of transfers between individuals had risen six-fold to 40bn Rwandan francs ($42m).
Continue reading at: The Economist