Roshan and M-Paisa: The Promise of Mobile Money in Afghanistan
In 2008, Roshan, Afghanistan's leading telecommunications provider, launched M-Paisa, its mobile money transfer service, which allowed Afghans to use their mobile phones to transfer funds, receive and repay microfinance loans, make purchases, and disburse and receive salaries. The company was committed to building a financial ecosystem for transparent, safe, convenient, and secure services, which would also contribute to the long-term development of Afghanistan's society. Utilizing technology from Vodafone Group Plc, which had been successful in Kenya, Roshan enjoyed several successful pilots, but it still faced a myriad of issues as it sought to scale the service amid a challenging operational environment. In 2011, three years after its launch, the M-Paisa service had yet to make a profit. Roshan's chief executive officer and chief operating officer wondered what more they could do to turn M-Paisa around and, ideally, make an even more significant social impact.