Vodafone and MTN plan to collaborate on the provision of mobile money services across East Africa, in what is the latest in a series of international agreements between operators in this field.
Customers of Vodafone's M-Pesa mobile money transfer and payments service and MTN Mobile Money in East Africa will in future be able to transfer money to each other following an agreement between the two operators.
The move is set to benefit M-Pesa customers in Kenya, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique, and MTN Mobile Money customers in Uganda, Rwanda and Zambia.
Vodafone Director of Mobile Money Michael Joseph said: "Our agreement with MTN to connect our mobile money wallets in East Africa is a fantastic example of co-operation and interoperability between competing mobile operators. By working together, we will deliver cheaper, faster money transfers, improving the lives of many people living in the seven countries involved."
Vodafone first extended the M-Pesa mobile money transfer and payments service to the international payments market in March, in what was its first international money transfer corridor between Tanzania and Kenya.
Orange then teamed up with Airtel in Africa, enabling users of its Orange Money service in Côte d'Ivoire to send money to Airtel Money customers in neighbouring Burkina Faso and vice-versa.
Orange also recently reached an agreement with pan-African bank Ecobank that allows Orange Money subscribers who also have bank accounts with Ecobank to transfer money between their respective accounts. The service has so far been launched in Mali and will be rolled out in other African countries in the first half of 2015.
Such services form part of efforts to drive "financial inclusion" by using mobile phones as a means of providing basic banking and payments services to the "unbanked". Globally, an estimated 2.5 billion people do not have a bank account.
The GSMA's fourth annual Mobile Financial Services State of the Industry Report said the number of active mobile money customers increased by more than 40 per cent in 2014 to 100 million people. With 255 services in 89 countries, mobile money is now available in 61 per cent of developing markets. Mobile network operators have taken the lead in 149 of these services.
According to the World Bank's Global Findex Database for 2014, 12 per cent of adults in Sub-Saharan Africa have a mobile money account, compared to just 2 per cent of adults worldwide.
- see this Vodafone and MTN release
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