PayPal reported that their global mobile payments volumes in 2009 was $600 million, or roughly $50 million/month. Let’s assume most of this came from the U.S. In contrast, Safaricom reported their monthly mPesa volumes at $300 million at September of 2009. PayPal Mobile launched one year before mPesa Kenya, and yet the volumes are vastly different. This chart compares relative populations, average income, and monthly volumes of mobile payments for US. PayPal Mobile (largest mobile money transfer system) vs. Kenya’s mPesa (largest mobile money transfer system.) These results are further exaggerated if we normalize by population (let alone if we normalized by income.) Clearly, something vastly different is transpiring in these two markets. My belief lies in the difference of the consumer value proposition mobile payments provides in markets with no other alternatives to cash vs. sophisticated financial services markets like the U.S. whose populations have access to cards and computers.
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