The World Bank has picked Michael Joseph, the former chief executive officer of telecommunications company Safaricom, to spearhead expansion of mobile money transfer services in member states.
Mr Joseph was picked for making Safaricom’s mobile money transfer service M-Pesa a success in Kenya and gaining international recognition.
“The first fellow under the programme, Michael Joseph, will advise the Bank and governments on spreading the use of mobile phone banking, drawing on his knowledge and experience at the helm of Kenya’s largest telecommunications service provider,” said the World Bank in a statement.
The World Bank Fellows Programme was established to encourage flow of knowledge in different sectors.
“I am really deeply honoured to have been selected as the first fellow by the World Bank to share my knowledge and experience in mobile innovations,” said Mr Joseph, who is now a director at Safaricom and Vodafone.
M-Pesa, which allows mobile phone subscribers to send as little as Sh50 in seconds, was first in the world and is now being emulated across the globe with countries such as South Africa, India and Afghanistan having launched such a money transfer service.
Transactions worth Sh596.8 billion have gone through M-Pesa since its inception in Kenya.
Commercial banks, fearing loss of business as more Kenyans use M-Pesa are now racing to partner with mobile phone firms to remain relevant.
The World Bank is keen to replicate this model in developing countries as way of fighting poverty and deepening financial services.
The service accounted for 11 per cent of Safaricom’s revenues or Sh5.2 billion in the six months to September this year up from Sh3.2 billion in the same period in 2009.
For Mr Joseph, the World Bank ‘role fits in well with his other assignments at Vodafone of playing a key advisory role in the expansion of the M-Pesa services to other African countries as part of plans to have a seamless mobile money transfer service in the continent.
Vodafone is eyeing entry into as the DR Congo, Lesotho and Mozambique.
The M-Pesa mobile phone money transfer services are available in Tanzania, Afghanistan, South Africa, while a pilot service is on in India.