In what Safaricom is referring to as “the largest deal of its kind in the world”, M-PESA subscribers in Kenya will now be able to receive international Western Union remittances on their mobile phones. With a total of 13.5 million subscribers on the M-PESA platform, the development is a big milestone for both Safaricom and Western Union.
The Safaricom/Western Union alliance will see Kenyans receive remittances from 45 countries and territories. “No other Kenya operator can receive money from as many countries”, Safaricom boasted in a release.
According to the statement, Kenyans in the Diaspora remitted US $642 million to Kenya in 2010, US $33 million more than they did in 2009.
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On the development, Safaricom CEO is said:
Our customers are very proud of the revolutionary M-PESA service, and this partnership sees us pushing new boundaries to continue to keep Kenya at the forefront of the mobile world. Through this partnership, our customers and their friends and families will benefit from affordable, faster and more convenient international remittances, and the money is available to use straightaway for any M-PESA transaction, or can be withdrawn as cash at any of our 24,000 Safaricom agents.”
A Western Union executive David Yates said that Western Union is pleased and looking forward to add more functionality in future for M-PESA subscribers.
M-PESA is a mobile-phone based money transfer service launched in March 2007 by Vodafone on its Kenyan mobile network, Safaricom. The service has grown to become the most successfully implementation of the “mobile wallet” concept in South Africa. M-PESA does not require that a subscriber have a bank account to send and receive money.