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Bridges to Cash: The Retail End of M-PESA

M-PESA is a remarkably successful mobile payments system launched in Kenya three years ago. Users are able to send money to each other conveniently from their M-PESA using only their mobile phones. A key to the success of M-PESA is the availability of an extensive network of retail shops that accept M-PESA deposits and withdrawals, i.e. they stand ready to exchange cash and electronic value. It is the stores that provide liquidity to the system, and they are paid a commission by M-PESA for this service. Behind the store is a network of intermediaries that arrange the logistics around cash management. This paper by Ignacio Mas looks at daily transactional data from six M-PESA stores in Western Kenya in order to better understand the liquidity management needs of these stores. It examines how liquidity needs vary by location and day of week/month, and by the level of service offered by the store.

Ignacio Mas
Ignacio Mas is a Senior Fellow at CEME at the Fletcher School. He has been deputy director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has held senior telecoms jobs at Vodafone and Intel, and has been adjunct professor at the Business School at the University of Chicago. He holds a SB degree from MIT and a PhD from Harvard.

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