Mpesa hit the ground running and has aided even the banking system as well as many other industries while making life easier for Kenyans. Over a decade later, the topic on who invented Mpesa has been a source of debate for most Kenyans as well as other members of the globe. I bet you heard of the student who invented Mpesa. Is he really the brains behind the world’s leading mobile money transfer?
Last year was the tenth anniversary of Mpesa, the mobile money transfer platform that has taken East Africa and the world by storm. The person who invented Mpesa has always been a mystery despite backing from either camp, but when the man who was in charge when Mpesa was launched speaks, the truth comes out. We all know the deceased CEO of Safaricom is Bob Collymore; his predecessor, Michael Joseph oversaw the launch of Mpesa.
- Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore Has Passed Away
- Safaricom to Annouce Way Forward in Next 24 Hours Following Bob Collymore’s Death
- Safaricom Appoints Former CEO Michael Joseph as Interim Lead After Bob Collymore’s Death
Thanks to a grant issued by the Department for International Development in the United Kingdom, Michael Joseph had the go-ahead to improve financial services in Kenya. As you would expect, the original idea was not Mpesa. Instead, microfinance loans were issued using mobile phones with the prototype service launched in Thika, Kenya. However, Safaricom noticed that most people accessed the money only to send it to the rural areas.
As such, the company shifted its attention towards making a loan system that would aid the transfer of money from one phone to the other. The idea was to enable a Safaricom customer to transfer liquid cash into electronic money by visiting a Mpesa agent. The money would be stored on their SIM cards until they wished to withdraw it or send it to another Safaricom customer. The transaction was designed to have a low cost and complete in a few seconds.
Mpesa was launched in 2007 and Kenyans heeded Michael Joseph’s advice regarding their phone memory status. Upgrading a phone might have cost less time, but visiting the Kenya Central Bank to register for Mpesa seemed absurd. The agents might have been scarcely distributed during Mpesa’s inception, but they can be found on almost every corner these days. According to Michael Joseph, Mpesa’s original business plan was gunning for 350,000 customers in the innovation’s first year. However, the then CEO pushed his team, and by the end of the mobile money service’s first year, the company had garnered over a million Mpesa active users. By December 2016, the Mpesa service was processing over 6 billion transactions peaking at 529 per second. In 2017, Mpesa hit 30 million customers with more than 280,000 workers in ten countries.
Mpesa mobile money transfer – who invented it?
Mpesa who invented it? So, is Michael Joseph, the man who invented Mpesa or is it a Kenyan who invented Mpesa? There was a story of a Jomo Kenyatta Institute of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) student circulating a few years back. The name of the student who invented Mpesa, or at least by his own right, is Nyagaka Anyona Ouko. The certificate of copyright he presented as evidence dates back to 2012; by then Mpesa was a force to reckon in the Kenyan economy. Ouko also claims that other Kenyans contributed to the founding of Mpesa. It is alleged the person who really invented Mpesa a JKUAT student undertaking his project. He pitched the idea to Safaricom and got his reward from Michael Joseph after the tests were complete. The CEO then implemented the idea into the multi-million dollar industry status it currently enjoys. At least he was rewarded for his effort, but why did he opt not to invest in his idea?
Perhaps the question who invented Mpesa services was in the air for so long that some people chose to take advantage of the situation. There are also other theories of German origin, but none of them are backed by concrete evidence. The person who invented Mpesa services should have acquired a patent to ensure ownership rights are properly stipulated. As far as Mpesa is concerned, Safaricom has the right of ownership and are legally and technically, the innovation’s inventors.
All big businesses understand the importance of a patent, especially in the new world. Mark Zuckerberg stayed on top of his Facebook project by getting a patent and so did Bill Gates with Microsoft. Mpesa has attained so much growth over the past decade that the mobile money transfer service has impacted the Kenyan economy exponentially. All sectors of business can now operate with cohesion and speed thanks to fast money transfer.
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Everybody aspires to create something that will change the world and enhance their livelihood as well as that of their kin. Who invented Mpesa? There might never be a straight answer, but one thing is for sure, a simple idea can transform the lives of tens of millions of people. If that bright bulb regarding an innovation flickers atop your head, make sure you patent every detail to guarantee a legacy.
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