Tracking Kenya’s cash economy with new mobile survey platform

While Kenya may be Africa’s mobile money capital, there are is still a large part of its population that still use cash exclusively and are therefore harder to gather comprehensive research data on.

That’s why M-PESA parent company Safaricom has partnered with mSurvey, a mobile research platform to launch Consumer Wallet, a first-of-its-kind data feed that leverages mSurvey’s mobile messaging platform to track and measure Kenya’s cash economy over time, providing businesses, entrepreneurs and investors in the country unprecedented insight into the spending habits of the offline consumer.

mSurvey’s mobile research platform allows the two companies to have scalable and measurable conversations with individual consumers on a daily basis.

To analyse the flow of cash in real-time, simple questions about spending behavior are sent as chats to the mobile phones of millions of consumers, resulting in a dynamic, visualized and nuanced data stream that provides businesses, entrepreneurs and investors instant insight into offline consumer spending habits in Kenya and a comprehensive measurement of their ‘share of wallet.’

“To invest in Africa, you have to understand its consumers,” said Bob Collymore, CEO of Safaricom.

“The in-depth, high-integrity data we are unlocking with this new Consumer Wallet platform is extremely valuable and helps us and other businesses and institutions around the globe make better decisions, relate to consumers, identify opportunities, navigate the terrain and fuel growth and transformation. Traditionally it would take extensive in-person questionnaires or physical diaries to scratch the surface of this kind of data, a method that is cumbersome, expensive and subject to low response rates and human error.”

Consumer Wallet also provides insight into how external factors and stressors like weather, climate change, and current events (such as elections) impact demand. By showing how consumers prioritize their purchases, what categories compete for spend and what tradeoffs consumers make, it supports competitive analysis as well.

“By perpetually engaging in intimate conversations with consumers, we are able to understand their everyday spending journeys and uncover powerful trends. For example, the product highlighted that in January 2017, rent went from 10% to 19% of the wallet, and school fees from 8% to 16% compared to 2016. Such key insights allow a deeper dive into the drivers of the change,”  said Kenfield Griffith, CEO and founder of mSurvey.

The Consumer Wallet is in live beta in Kenya, with plans to scale across the continent and other emerging markets.


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