Olga Morawczynski, University of Edinburgh
This presentation will discuss an ongoing ethnographic study of M-PESA, a Kenyan m-banking application. The purpose of this study is to analyze how the application is being used, and to explain why it is being used in these ways. The ethnography is being deployed in two locations: (1) Kibera, an informal settlement on the outskirts of Nairobi; (2) Bukura, a small village in Western province. Several interesting findings are emerging from this multi-sited ethnography: that the M-PESA application is helping urban migrants to maintain relations with their rural relatives; that the money sent via M-PESA constitutes a substantial part of the household income for the rural poor; that remittance and savings patterns are beginning to change as Kenyans adopt M-PESA; and that during the post-election violence, M-PESA facilitated a substantial change to remittance patterns.
The presentation will begin by providing a brief overview of M-PESA, and the two research sites. It will thereafter delineate patterns of adoption and usage, and discuss the aforementioned findings. The presentation will conclude with a short discussion of the socio-economic impact of M-PESA.
About the author
Olga Morawczynski is a PhD candidate in the discipline of Science and Technology Studies (STS) at the University of Edinburgh. She has a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology Management and a first class Master’s degree in International Political Economy. Olga's research focuses on the diffusion and impact of information and communication technologies (ICTs) on emerging economies in Latin America and East Africa. Currently, she is using ethnographic methods to examine the adoption and usage of M-PESA, an m-banking application in Kenya. Her research has been published in several peer-reviewed journals and has been presented at numerous international conferences.