Is Mpesa the solution to quicker mobile money transfer?

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Johannesburg – Transfers between M-Pesa and MTN mobile money users in East Africa are set to become a reality.

This is after South African headquartered MTN and the UK’s Vodafone have inked an agreement to interconnect their mobile money services in the region.

The deal means that international remittances will be switched on between Vodafone’s M-Pesa customers in Kenya, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique, and MTN Mobile Money customers in Uganda, Rwanda and Zambia.

“By working together, we will deliver cheaper, faster money transfers, improving the lives of many people living in the seven countries involved,” Vodafone director of mobile money Michael Joseph said in a statement.

Meanwhile, MTN Group head of mobile financial services, Serigne Dioum said, “Together, we aim to build a scalable model that will accelerate remittance roll-out across the continent”.

Mobile money has surged in popular use in Africa.

Global mobile phone body the GSMA announced earlier this year that the number of active mobile money accounts globally exceeds 100 million and that Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for more than half of these users.

The poster child of mobile money in Africa has been Kenyan mobile operator Safaricom, in which Vodafone has a 40% stake.

Safaricom launched M-Pesa in 2007 and the service has seen strong growth in a Kenyan market which has a low banked population. Today, Safaricom has over 19 million M-Pesa users.

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