NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 8 – Safaricom and Western Union announced on Monday that they would partner in a pilot cross-border Mobile Money Transfer service between Kenya and the UK.
The service, which also enjoins Vodafone UK, would enable customers to send cross-border remittances from select locations directly to Safaricom mobile subscribers in Kenya in minutes.
The new service aims to build on the success of M-PESA, which has so far attracted over four million customers in Kenya since its launch in March last year.
Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Michael Joseph: said “This is another great step for M-PESA and will benefit many Kenyans all over the world. International remittances form a significant part of the total income for some Kenyans, and the partnership will provide Kenyans with an opportunity to receive small values of cash from abroad in a fast, safe and affordable way.”
The initiative will use Western Union\’s global hub for processing cross-border remittances.
“This program aligns a global leader in money-transfer services, the world’s largest mobile operator group, and arguably one of the most impressive success stories in mobile money,” said Matt Dill, Senior Vice President, Western Union Digital Ventures.
“In offering M-PESA users the opportunity to receive funds from abroad for the first time, these three companies are changing the way money moves around the globe.”
Vodafone said receivers can access their funds in a variety of ways, including visiting one of 4,000 M-PESA agents in Kenya to withdraw their cash, or forwarding it on to another mobile phone in the country.
“The successful take-up of M-PESA in Kenya has clearly demonstrated the demand for easily accessible, secure cash payment services in emerging markets,” said Nick Hughes, Vodafone’s Head of International Mobile Payments.
“Our partnership with Western Union allows M-PESA subscribers to receive international remittances and builds on the demand we have already seen domestically in Kenya.”
He said there are many benefits of using mobile phones for micro-transactions in a country like Kenya, where few people have bank accounts and over 10 million people have mobile phones.
The initiative aims to tap on the increased global migration that has led to a significant increase in the flow of funds from expatriate migrant workers who send money home.
Kenya received approximately $US1.3b in international remittances in 2007.
Western Union, together with brands Orlandi Valuta and Vigo, has a combined network of more than 365,000 agent locations worldwide in 200 countries and territories.
Vodafone is the world’s largest mobile operator by revenue and has recently expanded the M-PESA service to Tanzania and Afghanistan.
Safaricom is Kenya’s leading mobile operator and has had unprecedented success with its M-PESA service.