Vodafone is to expand the reach of its M-Pesa mobile money platform by participating in a remittance hub for cross-border cash transfers to 35 countries.
Vodafone is to connect M-Pesa to the HomeSend hub operated by carrier services outfit Bics, enabling users to hook up with more than 21 international money transfer businesses in 35 countries. HomeSend acts as open and neutral intermediary system between participants to allow the flow of electronic mobile money beyond national boundaries, irrespective of the mobile network provider.
M-Pesa was launched by Vodafone in 2007 and is currently available in seven countries including India, Kenya and Tanzania.
Vodafone director of mobile money Michael Joseph says: "By breaking down national barriers to make mobile money transfer truly global and ubiquitous across all competing networks, just like text messaging today, we can further connect the world's huge unbanked population."
Last year, Kenyans used M-Pesa to send the equivalent of more than three times the World Bank's estimated value of remittances flowing into the country. The service is used regularly by more than 15 million customers, generating more than 165 million transactions per month.
The early success of M-Pesa has given rise to nearly 140 similar mobile transfer systems today in 65 countries, the majority of which are in emerging markets across Africa, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. According to the industry body, the GSMA, a further 104 mobile money services are in development.