Kenyan Digital Wallet to Merge Bitcoin with M-Pesa

by Mercator Advisory Group 0

Kipochi (wallet in Swahili) recently announced it will expand its capabilities to integrate its current bitcoin wallet with the extremely popular M-Pesa mobile payment and transfer service in Kenya.

While consumers using Kipochi can receive and send bitcoins worldwide by linking the digital wallet with the M-Pesa service, Kipochi says it will provide ordinary Kenyans with an easier, faster, and cheaper way to receive remittances.

In a blog post, Kipochi CTO Pelle Braendgaard explained the benefits of linking bitcoin and one of the world’s largest mobile payment services:

Now with Kipochi, the remittances into Kenya has a faster and cheaper way to reach even the most remote areas in Kenya, villages with no banks or Western Union services – in an instant.

Further commenting on the nature of the relationship between M-Pesa and Kipochi, Braendgaard firmly believes that his company has no intentions of competing with M-Pesa in the future and sees the relationship has mutually beneficial as each can complement the other in terms of expanding consumer reach and in service offerings.

While in theory bitcoin could provide means of sending money more cost effectively, consumers are far more at risk to the digital currency’s high volatility. With every dollar extremely important to remittance recipients, the added risk that accompanies bitcoin may be too much to handle. Firms such Western Union still provide the most secure means of sending funds home. As M-Pesa continues to grow and expand to new international destinations, expect more functionality to be integrated with M-Pesa and other mobile payment providers.

For more information on M-Pesa and some of its recent developments, see Mercator Advisory Group’s research viewpoint, Keeping Up with M-Pesa, published in June 2013.

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