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MPESA goes international

NAIROBI, November 28 – Safaricom plans to launch an international money transfer service through the M-PESA network.

The firm’s Chief Executive Michael Joseph revealed that pilot programs are already taking place and the only thing remaining to finalise is the administrative and legislative details.

“If a person sends 100 pounds from the UK to Kenya at what exchange rate should the money be disbursed at?  Will the exchange rate be at the bank or street rate?” Mr Joseph explained.

He said that putting the right regulatory procedures in place has also taken the company a while. “But any time now we will be launching the service,” he reiterated.

At the same time Mr Joseph has expressed confidence that despite increased competition in the industry the mobile company will still maintain its turf.

“I know in the next four years our market share will have reduced to about 65 percent due to this competition, which is normal.  But I am confident we will still be ahead of the game,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Joseph is predicting hard times for the mobile phone industry and all businesses in general due to reduced liquidity and high interest rates that have catapulted the cost of living in the country.

He however points out that despite this increased cost of living, airtime sales are still at an all time high because communication has become more of a necessity than a want.

“2009 will be a hard year but it was good that this recession took place because it was a warning for financial institutions to put their house together,” Mr Joseph said.

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“But we are pretty lucky that despite the ramifications having reached us it was not to the extent that it hit Europe and the United states.”

Mr Joseph was speaking while announcing that the company won ‘the best operator in a developing market’ award at a ceremony held in London on Wednesday evening.

The world communication award recognises companies and individuals responsible for the innovations, achievements and great new services in helping to build tomorrow’s industry.

“The award for best operator in a developing market recognises the operator that has best used or overcome developing market characteristics to achieve success and further the development of their market,” Mr Joseph said.

Safaricom won the award ahead of iBurst South Africa, Roshan Telecom Development Company of Afghanistan and Viettel Corporation of Vietnam that had been shortlisted in the same category.

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