Mr Seth Lumumba has had unpleasant experiences while handling cash money. At one point, he dropped a wallet containing his Sh19,000 in a latrine, losing his salary for the month.
On another occasion, Mr Lumumba, who lives in Nyeri, needed to take Sh2,000 to his sister in Nakuru.
So he boarded a matatu to go to Nakuru. Unbeknown to him, his sister had also boarded a matatu to take her to Nyeri.
“At that time, my sister did not have a phone, which meant we could not communicate well. We spent almost all that money on travelling,” he recalls.
Life got tougher when the agricultural extension officer was transferred to Meru, away from his family. His wife Jane Nyawira had to travel to Meru every end of month to collect money to run the house and pay bills.
Soon after M-Pesa services were introduced in Kenya in 2007, his neighbour informed him about it.
For him, that was the beginning of a better life. “I was not scared when I made my first transaction. I knew the troubles I had faced when handling money and this seemed like the best solution,” he said.
Although he cannot remember the amount of money he sent to his wife, he was glad that the transaction had saved the family transport expenses and the fatigue that comes with the three-hour journey.
Mr Lumumba acknowledged that M-Pesa had continuously improved the system, making it easier for customers.
The field officer recalled an instance where he had to subdivide Sh160,000 meant to buy land among his colleagues so that they could each send the cash through M-Pesa because the limit could not allow him to send such a huge amount.
“The limit of the money one could send in a day was about Sh35,000. I had to look for four friends to send that money,” he said.
The company has since extended the limit while reducing M-Pesa transaction fees.
M-Pesa has also given customers a window to confirm the details of the recipients or the details of the agent before completing a transaction.
Before M-Pesa introduced the life-saving improvement, Mr Lumumba while in Subukia keyed in the wrong agent number only to realise that agent was in Westgate, Nairobi.
“I had to borrow money for my transport back home and postpone other engagements. When I got back to Meru, an agent helped me to recover the Sh7,000 although I was really devastated,” he said.
In June last year, Mr Lumumba suffered a major setback after his right leg was amputated. He had been involved in a motorbike accident in 2009, sustaining an injury.
The accident caused pressure on an artery, which eventually broke causing him pain. Having ignored the problems for years, it was too late. While in hospital, Mr Lumumba said, M-Pesa came in handy while handling hospital bills.
He said his life has been made so easy that with only a touch of the phone screen, he can buy meat from his local butcher.
“When it gets dark and my wife cannot walk to the shopping centre, I only send money to the butchery’s paybill, which will cover the cost of paying a boda boda rider to deliver the meat,” he said.
He confessed having an outstanding M-Shwari loan that he took a week ago.
Now, he hopes that the country’s largest mobile operator can engage with the various employers so that salaries can be channelled to M-Pesa instead of being deposited in bank accounts.