At the time of M-Pesa’s launch in 2007, few could have conceived the mobile money service would be as ubiquitous and deeply entrenched in the lives of millions of Kenyans as it is today. A sizable portion of Kenya’s economy is now deeply ingrained in the platform to levels that are starting to concern officials on the economic consequences in the event of system-wide collapse or compromise.
While acknowledging its important role, Treasury officials think mobile money should be regarded as a “plausible fiscal risk” to the country given the growing inter-linkages with different sectors of the economy. At least 25 million Kenyans use the Safaricom-owned service through which they transacted $28 billion in 2015. This was equivalent to about 44% of the country’s GDP of $63.4 billion at the end of the period. In the first three quarters of 2016, it transacted $25 billion. It is the leading mobile money platform globally in terms of regular users and transactions.