CUSTOMER MATTERS

Great lesson from M-Pesa to banks: Chase hustlers

In Summary
  • It’s only a matter of time before banks become just one of the ways money changes hands. Even for large sums
  • Have you noticed M-Pesa limits are growing bigger? The fact is you can do more with M-Pesa than you can with your bank account
Moi University students protest in Eldoret for the second day demanding the release of delayed loans from the Higher Education Loans Board.
Moi University students protest in Eldoret for the second day demanding the release of delayed loans from the Higher Education Loans Board.
Image: MATHEWS NDANYI

Helb’s call to disburse loans via M-Pesa should be a wake-up call to banks. In the past, one could not enrol in college without a bank account. That is how many Kenyans got into the banking system.

If you got a job well and good; your salary went straight to your account. By now you and the bank were not strangers, you even had multiple accounts. Fast-forward to 2021 and things on the ground have shifted. Banks now have to compete with M-Pesa.

The government may not admit it, but the truth is people are struggling to make ends meet. It’s official the middle income group is shrinking. Covid-19 (plus decades of subpar management) have conspired to render many jobless.

And the few jobs coming along are casual, or short term contracts. With these jobs, the request by employer to provide bank details will be met with: can you put it on my M-Pesa please?

It’s only a matter of time before banks become just one of the ways money changes hands. Even for large sums. Have you noticed M-Pesa limits are growing bigger? The fact is you can do more with M-Pesa than you can with your bank account.

We can demonise M-Pesa and stir up all manner of dominance claims but banks seem doomed; not as the institution of banking but as who gets more profits when money changes hands. If you think M-Pesa is bad, just you wait till T-Kash and Airtel Money figure out how to awaken the sleeping giant in them.

Banks will need to step up to the plate in many ways but M-Pesa could provide a hint. The mainstay of the biggest and most profitable company in East and Central Africa is the common mwananchi. Does that remind you of the Equity of old?

Chase the hustler.