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Keywords:

  • Microfinance;
  • financial access;
  • financial inclusion;
  • mobile money transfer;
  • Kenya

Policy emphasis on financial-sector development has shifted away from microfinance and towards the development of ‘inclusive financial markets’. But, for inclusion to take place, policy must address barriers to access. This article analyses the socio-economic, demographic and geographical factors associated with financial-service use across formal, semi-formal and informal financial services in Kenya between 2006 and 2009, including the new and rapidly growing mobile-phone-based payments service – M-PESA. It finds that, despite an expansion of services, evidence of access barriers is now clearer than it was in 2006. However, there is some evidence that M-PESA is reversing age as a barrier to inclusion, but, as yet, it is more of a complement than a substitute for formal services.