M-PESA (a mobile banking service in Kenya) was introduced to offer a person-to-person money transfer service. Its extensive adoption and appropriation for purposes other than person-to-person transfers has influenced the technology providers (Safaricom) to widen their services beyond their original intentions. M-PESA provides a wide range of financial services including services for people who were previously unbanked. Users of M-PESA can now pay different utilities, those without credit cards can purchase products online, others can repay loans to microfinance institutions, pay insurance premiums, withdraw money from ATMs, use it as Point of Sale Payment and open savings accounts. This research examines the existence of “bi-directional” influences between technology and society by taking M-PESA business users as a case. It specifically investigates how M-PESA as a technology has influenced the business environment in Kenya and how the design of M-PESA has in turn been influenced by its adoption. The research adopts the Adaptive Structuration Theory as the theoretical framework and interpretive case study research as a methodological approach. Interviews with different stakeholders in the industry were used to collect data. Data was analyzed using Diachronic Analysis. The results of the research show that there is a “bi-directional” influence between technology and people as they affect each other over time. Mobile technologies shape the way businesses operate, allowing them to provide new services and improve existing ones. At the same time, usage and adoption trends affect the design of mobile technologies. Over time, technology is adapted to accommodate the new needs of businesses and other needs in the wider community. This research shows that the impact of technology depends not only on its functionality but also on its use and appropriation in society.
Dissertation (MCom)--University of Pretoria, 2013.