Bloomberg Businessweek contributor Charles Graeber spent 10 days in Kenya with only one requirement: to not use his wallet -- and to pay for everything by phone.
"I've never gone to Africa and I've never paid for anything with my phone," he said. So, intrigued by Kenya's M-pesa system ("M" stands for mobile and "pesa" means payment in Swahili). The system allows users to transfer money from phone-to-phone through text messages. Once Graeber landed in Kenya, it took him fifteen minutes to get set up with a phone, SIM card and become a client of the country’s largest mobile provider, Safaricom.
Charles was able to use his phone to pay for his taxi, book his hotel and even haggle down meat prices from the local market. This use of payment has become widely popular since its launch in 2007.
"Something like 93 percent of Kenyans with mobile phones have this... The truth is it's an alternative to banking... it is quickly becoming people's bank accounts. In fact, some people will keep their money on a SIM card, and then take that SIM card out and keep it in a cookie jar, sort of as a virtual savings account."
While the majority of Kenyans are using this method of payment, the U.S. has yet to adopt a system like this. It’s a shame, at least for Charles, who says he’s already missing it.
"You walk out the door only needing your phone… and your wallet is one less thing to forget."
It started in February in West Africa. It has surged in the past few weeks, and now it has killed more than 300. The death toll is the highest of any outbreak since Ebola was detected in 1976.
The Federal Reserve said that it was curtailing its bond purchases to $15 billion per month. It gave no hint when interest rates would rise.
Jason Speer, President of Quality Float Works Inc., a float metal ball manufacturing company, has travelled several times to Iraq since their expansion into the troubled country:
"People still don’t even believe me, I have to show them some pictures," says Speer, about his business trips to Iraq.
Speer says he saw investing in Iraq as an opportunity.
"The country needs to be rebuilt," says Speer. "Everything has been destroyed over the years of neglect. I think there are a lot of opportunities for American businesses especially."
Doing business in Iraq is definitely not easy. Just shipping the float metal balls can be a tricky process. Speer says they work with a local business man that assists with the logistics of getting their product into the country, but sometimes their products sit for weeks at a time, just waiting for the paperwork to be handled and to be cleared.
Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.
The new entry into the smartphone arena offers unlimited cloud storage for photos and a 3-D camera with image stabilization.
While most of the World Cup attention is on the field, Felix Sanchez of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, says broadcasters' racist commentary should be getting more attention.
According to Ethan Swan's blog 'NBA Tattoos,' 55 percent of basketball players in the league are tattooed. Swan shares what he's learned about the athletes from tracking their body ink.
Recent attacks in Kenya have left as many as 57 people dead. Meanwhile, in Nigeria, the search for hundreds of missing schoolgirls continues amid more violence in the north.
With thousands of unaccompanied children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, immigration judges are faced with deciding who stays and who goes. Host Michel Martin examines the court process.
From the Marketplace Datebook, here's a look at what's coming up Thursday, June 19:
In Washington, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds a closed hearing on Iraq.
The Conference Board is scheduled to release its monthly index of leading economic indicators.
Let's all slow down and maybe wear something fetching for World Sauntering Day.