Kenya has long been considered a pioneer of mobile money services, given the successful mobile payment system M-Pesa made its debut in the market. Now a recently launched project aims to combine M-Pesa with another pioneering currency technology, Bitcoin.
Telecoms company Millicom has stepped up its push to gain ground for its mobile money service in the east African country of Tanzania, home to 47 million people, as competition heats up between operators seeking to pounce on the boom of mobile money in three African nations.
Operator group Vodafone has joined forces with global money transfer and payment services firm MoneyGram to enable customers in over 200 countries to send money to M-Pesa users. The two will initially launch in a few key markets in 2Q14 and plan to roll out the service to further markets during the remainder of the year.
Already staking a claim to be the one of the most effective mobile money success stories to have graced the telecoms industry, Kenya’s M-Pesa service has now been extended to allow consumers access to interest-bearing saving accounts and the ability to take out small loans.
Indian bank ICICI Bank has partnered with Vodafone to launch the M-Pesa mobile payment service in India before the end of the year. The service will be provided by Vodafone India through its subsidiary Mobile Commerce Solutions. Under the M-Pesa brand, MCS will provide a mobile wallet service, while ICICI Bank will provide the mobile money account.
Vodafone Group has appointed M-Pesa pioneer Michael Joseph as its new managing director for mobile payments. Joseph was instrumental in establishing the M-Pesa money transfer service in Kenya, Tanzania and Afghanistan in his previous role as Safari Telecom’s chief executive. Safaricom is a Vodafone affiliate.
Kenyan operator Safaricom has partnered with retail chains Uchumi Supermarkets and Naivas, in order to give M-Pesa subscribers the ability to use the service to purchase goods in the stores.
One of three women on Kenyan operator Safaricom’s 12-strong senior management team, Betty Mwangi-Thuo is chief officer for new products. She oversees the firm’s value added service department, as well as all of its projects that intersect with the GSM Association.