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M-Pesa subscribers outside Kenya increase to 6m

Michael Joseph, the Vodafone Group Director of Mobile Money. PHOTO | FILE
Michael Joseph, the Vodafone Group Director of Mobile Money. PHOTO | FILE 

M-Pesa has gained about six million active users outside Kenya, raising its global subscriber base to 25 million. British telco Vodafone, which owns 40 per cent of Safaricom, has been launching M-Pesa in various choice markets around the world.

The mobile phone based cash transfer and payments service is now available in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Mozambique, Egypt, Lesotho, Ghana, Albania and Romania.

This means it has a presence in three continents Africa, Asia and Europe.

Vodafone Group Director of Mobile Money, Michael Joseph, said the surge in usage is attributed to M-Pesa’s entry into Albania and Ghana as well as support from a network of over 261,000 agents in countries of operation.

“Since 2007, M-Pesa has enhanced the lives and livelihoods of people without bank accounts, giving them access to essential financial services through their mobile phones,” said Mr Joseph.

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In Kenya, M-Pesa has about 19 million active users transacting an estimated Sh15 billion daily. Vodafone declined to give the value of global M-Pesa transactions.

Its usage is expected to further surge through cross-border arrangements such as Global Framework Agreements (GFA) with two international money transfer hubs, TransferTo and MFS For Africa.

Vodafone also stated that an agreement with MTN Mobile Money to enable direct money transfers between M-Pesa and MTN customers in seven countries across East Africa will drive up usage.

M-Pesa is also set to benefit from an agreement between Tanzania’s major mobile operators, including Vodacom, to enable their domestic mobile money services to be fully interoperable — the first market in Africa to do so.

Innovative partnerships

“M-Pesa continues to expand, evolving beyond traditional money transfers to encompass savings and loans, payment of salaries and benefits, settlement of utility bills and school fees and to enable vital health and agricultural solutions,” said Mr Joseph.

In the phase of increased competition from rivals, M-Pesa thrives within the 11 countries it operates through innovative partnerships.

In Lesotho for instance, the Ministry of Social Development pays welfare grants using M-Pesa, Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture also pays fertilizer subsidies using M-Pesa. In India, the National Rural Livelihoods Mission uses M-Pesa to enable financial inclusion for women’s groups and the National Rural Health Mission is using the service to disburse pre-natal health benefits. 

In Mozambique, Global development agencies now use M-Pesa to pay employee salaries and allowances, water, electricity and pay television companies in the country collect payments via M-Pesa. 

The World Bank in its analysis ‘Mobile Payments go Viral’ points out M-Pesa as a preferred platform for global transactions because it “reveals the need for a low-cost transactional platform that enables low-income customers to meet a range of payment needs.”

American billionaire Bill Gates also picked out M-Pesa as ‘one the top financial inclusivity innovations that transforms lives of the poor.’

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