Mobile money transfer goes international

Vodafone has announced a cross-border mobile money transfer service between the UK and Kenya.

The service will allow remittances to be sent from selected Western Union branches in the UK to Safaricom subscribers in Kenya, who can then redeem the money or send it on to another mobile user. The maximum amount that can be transferred internationally is £200 ($296), the Financial Times reports.

The service was a natural progression of M-PESA, a mobile money transfer service within Kenya offered by Vodafone and Safaricom which has signed up over 4 million customers since its launch in March 2007, and has been extended to Tanzania and Afghanistan.

The international service has suffered some setbacks, but regulatory and other hurdles have now been overcome and Vodafone has plans to extend it to other east African countries next.

Earlier this year, Vodafone won a network operating licence in Qatar, where 80% of the population is migrant workers - no doubt that that was one of its attractions for Vodafone and will be in the operator's sights as its rolls out more mobile money transfer services.

Officially recorded remittance transfers to developing countries are expected to reach $283bn in 2008, but the level is predicted to fall in 2009, the FT says.

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