The way we bank has developed dramatically in the last 20 years, thankfully. 20 years ago you would have to take half the day off in order to make a bank transfer. You had to fill out a deposit slip that required higher levels of training than an airline pilot and took as much time to fill out as it would to sit your final examinations. If you made a mistake on the last line of the deposit slip you would be forced to take a new slip home with you as the bank decided that 3pm every day was the most convenient time to close. You would have to burn the midnight oil filling it in and take the morning off the following day in order to deposit your slip.
In Africa, however, we find means and ways to curb tedious tasks. This stems from our ancestors who were able to pick fruit off trees all day and never have to worry about keeping harvests for the winter time as fruits grew all year around. In 2002 the researchers at Gamos and the commonwealth telecommunications organisation documented that in Uganda, Botswana and Ghana, people were using cell phone credit as a proxy for payments to friends and families who would then either use it or forward it on for their own use. The task of physically going to a bank to withdraw money was not feasible as this would take time or not be immediately available to them.
And so began the birth of M-Pesa. M, standing for mobile, and Pesa, meaning money in Swahali, was implemented in Kenya in 2007. It enabled people with cell phones to use their mobile devises to make payments, transfer between accounts and even allow withdrawls from the relevant ATM’s. this simplified the transaction process and reduced the amount of physical cash present in the market. It has been implemented in several other African countries and more recently is being funded to be implemented into Pakistan.
There have been some minor hiccups with implementing the system into some countries as the banking industry regulations are more stringent in some countries than in others. The M-Pesa system has been scrutinised but despite all attempts for audits to prove some inefficiencies, it has been deemed the most robust banking system in the world.
As this system adapts to the requirements of some countries regulatory authorities and people learn to accept and trust the system, this could become the future of money. After all, people are so reliant on their cell phone devices, and the technology of them have grown to allow credit card capability such as devices from Block.com. The registration for this service is very simple and safe to use and no doubt that the 17 million subscribers to this service will influence more in the future.
If you are working on the African continent it would be advisable to assess this service. See Vodacom or Safaricom web pages to find out about this service. Your salary could even be paid into M-Pesa to ensure that your money is safe.