Bend The Fish While It Is Still Wet

· How East Africa leap-frogged the world in mobile fin-tech

Technologies are of little consequence until they are surfaced through an acceptable interface. And since consumer products operate in the context of the society in which their users live, a good virtual or physical interface must be one that aligns with the accepted norms and practices of the users’ societal fabric.

This talk will explore the phenomena of mobile technology in East Africa to see what it teaches us about the nature of technology adoption and how to build consumer products that interface with society as a technology platform.

What the mobile phone has done in countries like Tanzania and Kenya is permanent disruption. The reach and impact of mobile technology in these places is not hype. For millions of farmers, taxi drivers, and teachers, mobile money is a reality of everyday life in East Africa.

These developments have been well documented, but it may surprise us to consider that the mobile money revolution in East Africa was not built on smartphones. It was built on dumb/feature phones that existed before the first iPhone came into market, and there are useful lessons to be learned in this.

This talk was first given at the 2015 Mobilism Conference.

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