Kenya: Safaricom Joins Worldremit, Others With M-Pesa Global Money Transfers

Safaricom Has Launched M Pesa Global opening up the mobile money transfer service to the world.

This new development will revolutionise the way money is transferred from mobile wallets beyond Kenya's borders.

The new service will allow anyone from virtually anywhere in the world to send money to any M-Pesa customer in Kenya.

A first of its kind, all M-Pesa customers can now send money to almost any individual across the world through a variety of channels including directly into their bank accounts, and for pick up at more than 500,000 Western Union agent locations.

"This new service brings the convenience, safety and speed of M-Pesa to the rest of the world and will enable Kenyans to send and receive money across the world from the comfort of their mobile phones," said Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, Chief Financial Services Officer, Safaricom.

He added, "M-Pesa Global seeks to connect Kenyans to opportunities by making it easy and seamless for them to transact with the world and for the world to transact with Kenyans."

The new service is available to customers via a USSD code *840# or by selecting "M-Pesa Global" under the M-Pesa menu on mySafaricomApp.

In addition to already existing channels, M-Pesa Global will immediately enable customers to send money for pick up at more than 500,000 Western Union agent locations across the world.

Transfers through bank accounts to the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and Germany will also be available immediately, with services to bank accounts in other countries being rolled out in the coming weeks.

With M-Pesa Global, Kenya achieves another first in enabling sending and receiving of money between mobile phones and virtually any individual across the world.

M-Pesa Global already allows customers to make and receive payments from more than 200 million PayPal customers from 200 markets across the world via the PayPal Mobile Money Service with M-PESA. Other partners available on the platform include World Remit and HomeSend among others.

The charges for the transactions are as follows:

Min Max Tariff (KES)

100 5000 100

5001 15000 250

15001 35000 350

35001 70000 500

While announcing the company's half-year results, M-Pesa, Mobile Data and Fixed Services remained the biggest growth drivers contributing 95 per cent of total service revenue growth.

During the first six months of the year, M-Pesa was the main driver of growth, contributing 64 per cent of service revenue growth, further accelerating displacement of traditional voice and messaging services.

M-Pesa grew at 18.2% YoY while growth in withdrawal revenue continues to slow down. The new business now accounts for 27 per cent of total M-Pesa revenue.

Safaricom's mobile data growth eased to 10.8 per cent in the period.

Fixed Data saw a connection of an additional 30 thousand homes in Half 1 which was more than double Safaricom's coverage YoY.

This line of business now contributes 3.3 per cent to total service revenue and grew at 21% YoY in the period.

But, Safaricom is not the first to the party for since late last year, WorldRemit has been on a charm offensive having first offered users 'affordable rates' to send and receive money.

According to WorldRemit, Kenyans in the diaspora are losing up to 11.35 per cent when sending money home due to the high costs charged for the transactions.

The World Bank reports that the average cost of sending money is around 7.21% with sub-Saharan Africa being one of the most expensive regions to send money to with charges at 9.13%.

With such charges, Kenyans lose the most sending money home with each year seeing about US$1.7b in remittances. WorldRemit promises cheaper mobile money transfer charges which will enable users to make savings on their cash.

WorldRemit trades in all major African currencies every day and has an extensive pan-African distribution network including bank, mobile money and cash pick-up points.

The international money transfer company launched a new digital service within Africa in September, making it easier to send and receive money across the continent.

Transferring money within Africa comes with prohibitive charges that individuals and businesses have to pay. This is a major obstacle to the growing regional integration promoted by the continent-wide free-trade agreement signed by 44 countries in March this year.

WorldRemit is targeting the fast-growing economies of East Africa including Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda for the roll-out of this latest innovation.

It transfers more than US$1.6 billion at an annualised rate to the region with projections showing transfers to Africa growing by 80 per cent year-on-year.

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