The last seven years have seen the mobile phone become quite a useful tool in East Africa, and especially in Kenya, where M-Pesa has become a global case study of the impact of mobile money. On Twitter, Carole Kimutai, editor - Management Magazine says "I am so amused watching bank CEOs brag about mobile banking. I remember how scared they were of M-Pesa. Times really change!" Mobile also emerged also prominently featured at the third CIO East Africa CIO 100 Annual awards and Symposium in Kigali, Rwanda.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>I am so amused watching bank CEOs brag about mobile banking. I remember how scared they were of MPesa. Times really change!</p>— Carole Kimutai (@CaroleKimutai) <a href="https://twitter.com/CaroleKimutai/statuses/355393179492683776">July 11, 2013</a></blockquote>
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Tom Juma, Head of IT at Old Mutual also shared on how the firm has leveraged on mobile to cater to clients beyond their physical outlets. The firm as come up with a mobile based unit trust, which offers investors guaranteed monthly interest.
Users register for the product by dialling a short code *480#. To eliminate the need of a physical copy of a users national identity document, i-Invest uses the Ministry of Immigration's Integrated Population Registration System (IPRS). IPRS confirms the user's detail thus enabling the product to operate within "know your customer" (KYC) regulations.
Once a user registers, all they need is KSh. 480 to get started. The solution is designed to work with all mobile phones, hence functions via USSD.
Juma says that the solution proved so popular after launch that its USSD service was struggling to support the more than 1,000 hits it was getting. The service was also popular with diaspora users, who use it to invest money back home.
Interest payments can be made via bank transfers, mobile money or cheque. The service is now working to support other Kenyan telecommunication operators besides Safaricom.
During launch, one of the challenges faced by the application was Safaricom's rejection to partner. The firm might then have been working to launch M-Shwari, which extends M-Pesa into a banking service with interest.