Vodafone's M-Pesa to Open Up More International Money Transfer Routes to Poor Communities in Developing Markets
23 October 2012
Vodafone is set to help more people without access to conventional banking by broadening the reach of its secure mobile money transfer service, M-Pesa.
From next month, Vodafone will connect its M-Pesa service to a leading international remittance hub, HomeSend operated by BICS. This 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 countries.
M-Pesa was launched by Vodafone in 2007 and is currently available in seven countries including India, Kenya and Tanzania. The service allows customers to send and receive money via their mobile phones as securely and simply as sending a text message. Prior to M-Pesa, many people in developing markets had no choice but to move cash around in person or by public transport, exposing them to corrupt middlemen and thieves.
Vodafone Director of Mobile Money Michael Joseph said: "Mobile changes lives. It also transforms societies and economies: a 10% increase in mobile penetration in a country equates to a 1.2% increase in GDP growth.
2We 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."
Vodafone has a strong track record in the provision of simple and secure mCommerce services. 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. The service is used regularly by more than 15 million customers, generating more than 165 million transactions per month.
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.
Michael Joseph continued: "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.2