Leading MNO launches M-Pesa into Romania
Leading global MNO [Mobile Network Operator], Vodafone, has brought M-Pesa – its disruptive mobile money transfer and payment service into Europe for the first time. The addition of Romania continues the expansion of M-Pesa, following the launches in Egypt, India, Lesotho and Mozambique in the last 12 year. M-Pesa is the classic model for supporting micro-payments in geographies where the majority of the population are unbanked. Approximately seven million Romanians transact mainly in cash. M-Pesa could provide Vodafone with a useful revenue stream as voice traffic declines generally.
“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,” explained Michael Joseph, Vodafone’s director of mobile money.
He continued, “Vodafone M-Pesa is already used regularly by nearly 17 million customers and we look forward to bringing the significant benefits of the service to the people of Romania.”
The service also offers banked customers the convenience of being able to access and transfer money via the mobile phone.
Romanian M-Pesa customers will be able to transfer as little as one new Romanian leu (€0.22) up to 30,000 lei (€6,715) per day.
M-Pesa is based on simple text messaging technology and operates over any of Vodafone Romania’s mobile network connections, including 4G services which launched in 2012.
Vodafone M-Pesa can be activated at any one of around 300 Vodafone Romania stores and participating retail outlets as well as through authorised agents.
Significantly, it will be accessible to approximately six million people in both rural and urban areas of Romania.
Vodafone plans to extend M-Pesa to other parts of the country, comprising a total of 2,000 retail and distribution points of presence by Q1 2015.
M-Pesa also will allow Vodafone Romania’s customers to top up pre-pay airtime on a mobile device; pay utility bills; make a deposit and withdraw cash from participating agents; and purchase goods such as flowers, a newspaper and a coffee.
Developed by Vodafone, M-Pesa had approximately 16.8 million active customers as of December 31st 2013 and approximately186,000 authorised agents worldwide.
Vodafone M-Pesa customers make in excess of €900 million worth of person-to-person transactions per month.
Furthermore, in Kenya, Safaricom and Vodafone launched a savings and loans product in November 2012, called M-Shwari, in partnership with the Commercial Bank of Africa.
M-Pesa helps to illustrate how MNOs can create a secure mobile money system without needing to rely heavily on existing financial institutions.