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Open AccessArticle

M-PESA and Financial Inclusion in Kenya: Of Paying Comes Saving?

by Leo Van Hove 1,2,* and Antoine Dubus 3
Department of Applied Economics (APEC), Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
Faculty of Economic Sciences and Management, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Gagarina 13a, 87-100 Toruń, Poland
Télécom ParisTech, 46 rue Barrault, 75013 Paris, France
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(3), 568;
Received: 16 November 2018 / Revised: 19 December 2018 / Accepted: 17 January 2019 / Published: 22 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Trends in Finance and Investment Related to Sustainability)
Mobile financial services such as M-PESA in Kenya are said to promote inclusion. Yet only 7.6 per cent of the Kenyans in the 2013 Financial Inclusion Insights dataset have ever used an M-PESA account to save for a future purchase. This paper uses a novel, three-step probit analysis to identify the socio-demographic characteristics of, successively, respondents who do not have access to a SIM card, have access to a SIM but do not have an M-PESA account, and, finally, have an account but do not save on it. We find that those who are excluded in the early stages are predominantly poor, non-educated, and female. For the final stage, we find that those who are in a position to save on their phone—the phone owners, the better educated—are less likely to do so. These results go against the traditional optimistic discourse on mobile savings as a prime path to financial inclusion. As such, our findings corroborate qualitative research that indicates that Kenyans have other needs, and want their money to circulate and ‘work’. View Full-Text
Keywords: financial inclusion; saving; mobile financial services; M-PESA; Kenya financial inclusion; saving; mobile financial services; M-PESA; Kenya
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Van Hove, L.; Dubus, A. M-PESA and Financial Inclusion in Kenya: Of Paying Comes Saving? Sustainability 2019, 11, 568.

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