A “mobile money” revolution has swept Kenya, where people can send and receive money on their cell phones. It’s improved commerce and brought basic necessities to poorer areas.
Tech giants like Google, Facebook, and PayPal are all steadily rolling out new-fangled services to turn our smartphones into digital wallets – replacing cash and checks. And it’s been reported that Apple is working on a new payment option to let iPhone users send money directly to one another – as easily as a text message.
If this all seems cutting edge, you may be surprised to learn there’s one country that adopted mobile money years ago: Kenya. Here in the U.S., we can use smartphones to pay for things, but you typically need to be linked to a bank account or credit card. In Kenya, you don’t need a bank account, you don't need a credit history, or very much money for that matter, making this country in East Africa a giant experimental laboratory defining the future of money.