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This would enable microfinance institutions (MFIs) to offer more competitive loan rates to their users, as costs are lower than when dealing in cash.
The users of the service would gain through being able to track their finances more easily.
Global development institutions focusing on the development potential of financial technology frequently cite M-Pesa as a major success story in this respect, citing the poverty-reduction-claim and including a reference to Suri and Jack’s 2016 signature article.
In a report on "Financing for Development", the United Nations write: "The digitalization of finance offers new possibilities for greater financial inclusion and alignment with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and implementation of the Social Development Goals.
Users are charged a small fee for sending and withdrawing money using the service.
M-Pesa is a branchless banking service; M-Pesa customers can deposit and withdraw money from a network of agents that includes airtime resellers and retail outlets acting as banking agents.
The actual cost is a fixed amount for a given range of transaction sizes; for example Safaricom charges up to 66 KShs (0.64 USD) for a transaction to an unregistered user for transactions between 101-500 KShs (0.98–4.84 USD) and 27 KShs (0.26 USD) for a transfer to a registered user for the same amount.
By June 2016, a total of 7 million M-Pesa accounts have been opened in Tanzania by Vodacom.
The service has been lauded for giving millions of people access to the formal financial system and for reducing crime in otherwise largely cash-based societies.
The service enables its users to: The user interface technology of M-Pesa differs between Safaricom of Kenya and Vodacom of Tanzania, although the underlying platform is the same.
While Safaricom uses SIM toolkit (STK) to provide handset menus for accessing the service, Vodacom relies mostly on USSD to provide users with menus, but also supports STK.