M-Pesa arrives in Europe
31 March 2014 | 10857 views | 1
Having transformed Kenya's financial services industry, mobile money system M-Pesa is coming to Europe, with Romania the first stop.
M-Pesa - which takes its name for the Swahili for money - has proved hugely successful since its launch in Kenya in 2007, bringing financial services to the country's millions of unbanked.
Over the last 12 months Vodafone has sought to emulate the success in other developing countries, bringing M-Pesa to Egypt, India, Lesotho and Mozambique. The service now claims nearly 17 million active users and 186,000 authorised agents.
Now, having secured an e-money licence to offer financial services in Europe, the telco is arriving in Romania. From today, the seven million Romanians who transact mainly in cash will be able to use M-Pesa's simple text messaging technology to transfer as little as one new Romanian leu up to 30,000 lei a day.
Vodafone Romania customers can also top up pre-pay airtime on a mobile device, pay utility bills, make a deposit and withdraw cash from participating agents, and purchase goods.
Michael Joseph, director, mobile money, Vodafone, says: "The majority of people in Romania have at least one mobile device, but more than one third of the population do not have access to conventional banking."
Joseph told the FT that M-Pesa could come to "one or two" more Eastern or Central European countries in the near future but that Western Europe is not currently in its plans.