Publication: Use of technology in delivering social protection: The Case of M-PESA

Maitrot, M., Foster, C.G., 2014. Use of technology in delivering social protection: The Case of M-PESA, in: Rahmen, Z. H., Hulme, D., Maitrot, M., Ragno, L.P. (Eds.), Scaling-up Social Protection in Bangladesh. University Press Limited (UPL), Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Draft chapter


The key feature of social protection is to “successfully distribute the correct amount of benefits to the right people at the right time and frequency whilst minimising costs to both the programme and the beneficiary” (Grosh et al., 2007: 156) . Therefore, technologies might not be irrelevant to the social protection agenda. This chapter argues that technologies can play a central role in implementing effective social protection programmes in developing countries based on the example of M-PESA in Kenya.

Using a mobile phone to do your banking and pay for goods and services is possible in developing countries like Kenya. The case study of M-PESA helps to demonstrate how the use of technologies can help overcome infrastructural and operational limitations often faced when delivering social protection packages to vulnerable population in developing countries is concerned. Since the launch of M-PESA in 2007, nearly 100 services like it developed around the world, mainly in developing countries. The Kenyan experience revolutionises banking in the country by facilitating remittances cash transfers from urban to rural areas through virtual accounts on handsets. Key lessons can be drawn from this case study for helping national governments and development agencies develop efficient social protection delivery mechanisms