Kenya is very ready for Mobile Payments, How ready is Uganda?



MasterCard Worldwide unveiled the MasterCard Mobile Payments Readiness Index (MPRI), an analysis of 34 countries and their readiness to use three types of mobile payments: person to person (P2P), mobile web commerce (m-commerce) and mobile contactless payments at the point of sale (POS). The MPRI found that while no two nations are the same, consumer readiness is the critical success factor to drive mobile payments adoption. Kenya ranks among the top five countries globally in being ready to adopt mobile payments technology. Kenya comes after Singapore, Canada and United States.    89% of Kenyans were found to be familiar with mobile payments whereas 68% of the Kenyans were making P2P payments frequently.

The factors that were measured include

1.       Consumer Readiness; Measured how familiar with, how willing to use, and how frequently consumers are currently using all three types of mobile payments.

2.       Environment; Measured economic, technological, and demographic factors within a market.

3.       Financial Services; Measured the effectiveness and penetration of consumer financial products.

4.       Infrastructure; Measured the sophistication and penetration of the mobile phone industry and Near Field Communication (NFC) terminalization.

5.       Mobile Commerce Clusters; Measured partnerships among banks, mobile networks, and governments.

6.Regulation; Measured legal and regulatory structures and how they affect businesses.


According to the report, South Africa received a score of 29.1 on the MasterCard Mobile Payments Readiness Index, a number mainly driven by lack of partnerships as well as lagging Infrastructure and overall Environment scores. It’s important to note that Consumer Readiness scores were higher than average primarily due to familiarity with and willingness to use P2P payments, though familiarity is relatively high among all payment types.

Key facts about South Africa were that

1.       There are no existing partnerships between banks and telecoms in South Africa

2.       Only 12% of South Africans have access to the Internet

3.       26% of South Africans are willing to use P2P payments

MasterCard reports that in South Africa, there are no existing partnerships among banks, telecoms, and payments companies other than small programs by South African telecoms that mainly focus on SMS transfers. The regulatory environment is burdensome in South Africa; however, other areas of the overall environment require attention before any party can seriously attempt to mount a move to mobile payments.

In its report MasterCard concludes that the market infrastructure in South Africa will require some work in order to adequately handle mobile payments. While consumers show willingness to use their mobile devices for all payment types, the biggest opportunity within South Africa is likely in improving the mobile experience for P2P payments, as it appears to hold the greatest interest among consumers.


MasterCard states that It’s no secret why Kenya, ranking 83rd as an economy, right after Guatemala and before Puerto Rico, according to the CIA Factbook, should be in the company of big, developed, and integrated markets like the United States and Canada, and city-state powerhouses like Singapore. The success of M-Pesa has created an alternative payment network in Kenya, making it, in terms of sheer usage, one of the most advanced markets in the world. In Kenya, the MasterCard Mobile Payments Readiness Index story is less about payment protocol than it is about the levels of usage and awareness M-Pesa has fostered there. Key facts about Kenya include

1.       Low Environment, Infrastructure, and Financial Services scores are part of the reason for M-Pesa’s success

2.       M-Pesa is closed loop; users must be Safaricom customers

3.       Kenya has the world’s highest rate of P2P payments familiarity at 89% and a reported usage level of 70%

Environment and infrastructure are issues in Kenya, but they need to be parsed carefully. The success that mobile money has had in these early days is attributable, in part, to a lack of a traditional infrastructure and alternative conventional payment media. Mobile suggested itself as a solution to a population deeply in need of a fast and secure method of payment.

There’s another consideration. M-Pesa is closed loop; this means that only M-Pesa (Safaricom) customers, consumers and merchants can send or receive payments from each other. So it’s early days in Kenya in more than one respect.

MasterCard further states that it’s Kenyan consumers who have powered the East African nation to its position on the Index. Not only are Kenyan consumers leading the world in usage of P2P mobile payments, the success of M-Pesa has increased the awareness of all types of mobile payments.


It concludes about Kenya that the success of mobile payments in Kenya is remarkable and can serve as a blueprint for payments adoption in the rest of the emerging world, where safety and inclusion are key goals. Nevertheless, Kenya is not leveraging the full range of solutions available for mobile payments. A further developed infrastructure can build on the solid foundation already in place.



A comparison of Kenya and South Africa shows that South Africa readiness is way lower than Kenya readiness.  A question is then asked of how ready is Uganda? Uganda was not part of this study but with the current liberalized mobile money trends in Uganda, we would expect Uganda to perform better than South Africa in readiness though most likely lower than Kenya the pioneers of mobile money with M-Pesa.


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