Case Number: 5-213-250, Year Published: 2013
HBS Number: KEL762
Competitive Strategy, Corporate Strategy, Economics, Growth Strategy, Innovation, Marketing Strategy, Network Effects, Pricing Strategy, Two-Sided Markets
The Kenyan government’s announcement of a new 10 percent tax in March 2013 threatened the future prospects of M-Pesa, Safaricom’s mobile money transfer service, which had revolutionized the way money moved in Kenya. The new tax would be levied on all cash transfers but was largely targeted at M-Pesa, which controlled around 80 percent of the cash transfer market. In response to the new tax, Safaricom, the mobile communications market leader, announced a 10 percent price increase.
The case presents the structure Safaricom established in order to develop a mobile money transfer service in Kenya. As a concept, M-Pesa was unprecedented in Kenya: prospective customers had to get comfortable with the idea that a mobile communications company could provide a payment system, that transactions could be initiated through a mobile phone, and that nonbank outlets could provide cash-in/cash-out services. Even when the concept was accepted, however, customers needed a convenient network of agents to handle transactions, and stores needed to see demand from customers in order to be motivated to become agent outlets. Thus, in order to grow, M-Pesa needed to aggressively pursue and acquire both customers and agents in this two-sided market.
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