Vodafone Group has announced of plans to extend the reach of its secure mobile money transfer service M-Pesa to additional international money transfer services.
From this November, Vodafone will connect its M-Pesa service to a leading global remittance hub HomeSend, an operation run by BICS — a leading global provider of wholesale carrier services and a first mover in the mobile financial services market.
The connection will allow M-Pesa customers to send and receive funds via their mobile phone accounts by connecting directly to more than 21 international money transfer businesses in 35 different countries worldwide.
Vodafone Director of mobile money Michael Joseph said: “Mobile changes lives. It also transforms societies and economies: a 10 percent increase in mobile penetration in a country equates to a 1.2 percent increase in GDP growth.
“We are now at the next stage of that growth. By breaking down national barriers to make mobile money transfer truly global and ubiquitous across all competing networks, just like text messaging today, we can further connect the world’s huge unbanked population.”
M-Pesa, as reportedby HumanIPO last week, was launched by Vodafone in 2007 in Kenya, after development in the United Kingdom. It is currently available in seven countries including South Africa, India, Kenya and Tanzania.
M-Pesa allows customers to send and receive money via their mobile phones securely. It is also intuitive as sending and receiving money is as simple as sending a text message.
The HomeSend will enable customers using Vodafone M-Pesa to receive money from a range of providers, and – subject to local regulatory approval – send money to customers in other countries directly from their mobile phones. For instance, a Vodafone M-Pesa user in Tanzania would be able to receive money from a family member in the UK or any other country connected via HomeSend.
Last year, Kenyans used M-Pesa to send the equivalent of more than three times the World Bank’s estimated value of remittances flowing into the country. More than 15 million customers, generating more than 165 million transactions per month, use the service regularly.
The early success of Vodafone’s M-Pesa service has given rise to nearly 140 similar mobile transfer systems today in 65 countries, the majority of which are in emerging markets across Africa, the Middle East and Asia Pacific.
According to the industry body, the GSMA, a further 104 mobile money services are in development.
Joseph said: “For millions of people in emerging markets, a mobile phone is a bank account, the front door to a micro-business, a gateway to higher market prices for a farmer’s crops or a lifeline for an isolated woman in a distant village.
“One particular highlight of this is the Vodafone-backed Moyo project in Tanzania which treats women of a debilitating postnatal condition, obstetric fistula, and helps pay for their transport to a hospital through M-Pesa.”