Africa's first cash economy research platform


Global mobile research platform mSurvey, a global mobile-first research platform and Kenyan communications agency Safaricom have launched Consumer Wallet, a platform that quantifies offline consumer spending habits and trends.

Currently in beta, Consumer Wallet is a live and 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.

While Safaricom's Lipa Na M-PESA service, a solution that allows consumers to pay for goods and services daily through their phones, has revolutionized the way Kenya does business, there remains a significant portion of the economy that is cash dependent.

These invisible, hard-to-quantify transactions make it difficult for local and multinational businesses, entrepreneurs and investors to understand consumers and offline shopping habits and trends and develop products that would be of value them.

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mSurvey's mobile research platform allows the two companies to have scalable and measurable conversations with individual consumers on a daily basis. To analyze 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," says Bob Collymore, Safaricom CEO.

"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."

With Consumer Wallet data, which is tracked and analyzed daily, businesses, entrepreneurs and investors are empowered to understand how choices evolve over time, and can build sales models that predict how consumers will behave based on geographic location, living standard measurement and time of year. It 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. Consumer Wallet captures complex information directly from consumers - whether bustling Nairobi or the smallest villages - via simple, fast, scalable, mobile-first technology, satisfying a global appetite for visibility into Kenya's elusive cash economy.

"Research, big data, social listening and market monitoring are critical to business development," says Dr Victor Ikawa, Head of Research and Insights at Safaricom.

"With the Consumer Wallet, we not only holistically quantify how much cash consumers are spending on goods and services, we can also now understand and track the 'why' - the emotional and practical variables that drive and impact consumer spend. This is a powerful value-add for Consumer Wallet users that unlocks unprecedented insights that get richer and more nuanced over time."

"The team of scientists at Safaricom and mSurvey bring rich experience in research, data and consumer insights and understand how, when and what to ask consumers to gain powerful insights that companies around the world need to make transformative decisions," says mSurvey founder and CEO Kenfield Griffith.

"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."

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