Kenya’s Safaricom has partnered with mobile phone service provider MTN in a new venture that will enable its 19.5 million M-Pesa users to send and receive money from 19 African countries and beyond.
This follows signing of an agreement between Vodafone Group and MTN Group allowing their customers across their markets in Africa and beyond to transact business via the mobile money transfer platform.
M-Pesa, which is available in nine African countries, will also help MTN users access the world market through its 250,000 agents thereby enabling real-time transactions from sender to receiver at a much cheaper cost.
In a statement to newsrooms, Vodafone’s Director of Mobile Money Mr Michael Joseph said the agreement with MTN will initially see seven countries in East Africa interconnected to the mobile money services offered by the two companies.
For his part MTN Group Head of Mobile Financial Services Serigne Dioum expressed optimism, saying that with the successful launches in Ivory Coast and Benin in West Africa, he was enthusiastic that their co-operation with Vodacom would see more countries included.
“We are looking enthusiastically at the collaboration with Vodafone in East Africa as our aim is to build a scalable model that will accelerate remittance rollout across the continent,” he said.
This collaboration between the region’s two biggest mobile money operators will enable convenient and affordable international remittances between M-Pesa customers in Kenya, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique, and MTN Mobile Money customers in Uganda, Rwanda and Zambia.
M-Pesa had approximately 19.5 million active customers as of December 31, 2014 and approximately 250,000 agents worldwide.
MTN boasts 223.4 million subscribers across its operations in Afghanistan, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Republic, Iran, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, South Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia.
SHARE BEST PRACTICES
Under the terms of their memorandum of understanding, MTN and Vodafone will also share best practiceS and work together to define the rules and standards of mobile-based remittances in Africa.
Vodafone, which is the majority shareholder in Safaricom, is one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies, providing a range of services including voice, messaging, data and fixed communications in 26 countries and has partnerships with mobile networks in 55 other countries while its fixed broadband operations serve 17 markets.
M-Pesa was launched in March 2007 by Safaricom in Kenya, opening up a money war with the traditional banks that had dominated the money services for decades.
It was hailed as a world first for its branchless and paperless mode that ensured millions of people who had access to a mobile phone but no bank account were able to send and receive money.
Currently, one can top up airtime, pay for goods and services as well as settle court fines and bond in Kenyan courts using mobile money transfers.