The Economist's Innovation Awards 2010
- September 23, 2010
Winner: Social and Economic Innovation - Nick Hughes and Susan Lonie
The Ba ckground
In 2003, at the World Summit for Sustainable Development, Nick Hughes, employed by Vodafone at the time, was approached by a representative from the UK government’s Financial Deepening Challenge Fund (FDCF) run by the Department for International Development. Hughes decided to get involved and led the effort to get Vodafone, the world’s leading international mobile communications group with operations in 25 countries, active in a mobile payments project funded by the FDCF. Susie Lonie, a mobile commerce expert, was recruited to develop and manage the project on the ground in Kenya from pilot to commercial operation.
M-PESA (m for mobile, pesa is Swahili for money) is a mobile phone-based money transfer service. It is aimed at customers who do not have access to a bank or, if they do, lack easy access to a bank account in rural areas. It was launched as a pilot project in Kenya in October 2005 and became widely available in the country starting in 2007.