9: M-Pesa

For Delivering Cutting-Edge Mobile Technology That Allowed Kenya to Leapfrog Past More Advanced Economies and Start a Banking Revolution

In Kenya, financial institutions were scarce and the population largely unbanked in the early 2000s. So people began using the prepaid airtime minutes on their mobile phones as a form of currency: They traded minutes on calling cards for cash or goods and services. This was long before the idea of mobile banking had become mainstream, before services like Venmo and Alipay had defined a market. The Kenyan community simply hacked its own solution, out of the tools at hand.
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