Uganda’s Mobile Money Censorship is a Testament to Bitcoin

Money as a form of Communication

The censorship of mobile money in Uganda during its Presidential and parliamentary elections, is a testament to the need for apolitical digital currencies like bitcoin. Money, just like media is a means of communication. Just as social media censorship riles up freedom activists, so should forms of censorship on money.

On election day, Ugandans woke up to no social media and no mobile money services. Nearly 20 million mobile money users were unable to access the service for at least two-and-half days.

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Why we should Slay Mpesa, and save the town

article2Kenya and east africa’s mobile money systems are overly reliant on Telco’s networks and SIM modules. The status quo is detrimental to Banks, Non-banking financial institutions and a whole host of digital token value services e.g sports betting and prepaid electricity tokens.

Telcos, now Mobile Money Operators, are a Banks wet dream. Peer to peer money transfers in Kenya almost always route through a mobile network operator’s SMS, SIM card and USSD channels; they are the gatekeepers.
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Kenya clamps down on Cash

From my Twitter timeline, I can tell there is a lot written about the ongoing war on cash; an international war on physical paper and coins. Today, it was much closer to home.

Central Bank’s new tough rules to monitor large cash transactions was an article from the Standard Digital dated January 28, 2016 [Read more…]

Why Bitcoin Matters

Bitcoin article

Bitcoin, a little know currency that emerged in 2009, has achieved what was previously thought impossible, a digital cash. It went up from a market cap of under $1 million to today’s $6 billion. It also got Central banks excited by the concept of issuing virtual currencies, and a real shot  at eradicating cash. Never has the role of Bitcoin been more clear. In a world of state issued digital monies, a censorship resistance digital bearer asset is the only check against bad government. [Read more…]

The Curse of the Dollar, Why bitcoin matters for Africa

Commodity prices have dictated Africa’s fortunes for decades. Over the last 8 months, however, falling commodity prices have exposed the weakness of this model. I have always said, the peoples of Africa are best placed to benefit from an apolitical global currency like Bitcoin. [Read more…]

How much it costs to send money btwn Kenya & Tanzania via Mpesa

A couple of weeks ago Safaricom and Vodacom announced a cross border money transfer service on the Tanzania – Kenya corridor. Both subsidiaries of UK-based Vodafone Group, are leaders in their respective home markets. Through this partnership, registered Mpesa and Vodacom users can send and receive money in either direction.

With assistance from my friend (Ofio) in Tanzania’s capital, Dar, I set to out to test this service and found out:

It costs 6.24% in total to send 4,000 TZs to Kenya. A 4.74% forex margin spread is applied plus 1.5% sending charges . The same applies for TZ to Kenya bound transactions from Vodacom to Mpesa.

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5 more things they didn’t tell you about m pesa

Cover Mpesa myths

Despite a fair number of attempts at elaborately fleshing out Mpesa for readers, in this article I outline 5 more things left out  by:

Claudia McKay & Rafe Mazer did an article for the CGAP titles “10 Myths About Mpesa: 2014 Update” – a follow up to a previous article by Claire Alexandre “10 things you thought you knew about Mpesa”. In both of these articles, 5 crucial things were left out that you should know about!

Mpesa is used on a contractual basis from Vodafone Group.

M-pesa is not a Kenyan invention, by any stretch. M-pesa is owned by Vodafone Group, was partly funded by the UK DFID, conceptualized by Nick Hughes – an executive at Vodafone – in 2003 and finally project managed by Susan Lonie – an m-commerce expert – from pilot to commercial operation.

A confluence of factors – fashionable sustainable development, microcredit prospects in East Africa and a willing mobile network operator, Safaricom – meant that Kenya was a hotbed for testing a pilot. [Read more…]

Digital payments in East Africa (Part I): Card payment alternatives

Card payment alternatives in Kenya by pesa-africa

Card payment alternatives in Kenya by pesa-africa

Kenya and East Africa are actively transitioning to cashless payments systems. East Africa’s economies are largely cash based informal economies with its associated costs. Challenges in aggregating national transaction data, consumer spending patterns, tax administration there is really no shortage of incentives.

With no means to track sales, little data is available, and channels are too fragmented for companies to forecast production and distribution with any degree of accuracy.
Niti Bhan

Policy makers, governments, central bankers and the private sector are looking to cash in on the benefits of culturing digital payments for the Kenyan market; a variety of emoney and digital currency payment options thrive in Nairobi – the capital.

Central Bank of Kenya data reveals a total of 10million cards in circulation as at January 2013 in the local card payments industry.

Here is a basket representative of card payment alternatives in Kenya. [Read more…]