(Adds a comment from Western Union)
By Duncan Miriri
Kenya's largest telecom company Safaricom on Tuesday introduced a new service to the M-Pesa mobile financial services platform, which will allow users to send money around the world in collaboration with Western Union.
It began 11 years ago as a basic mobile money transfer service to serve Kenyans without access to the official banking network. M-Pesa has evolved into a comprehensive financial service, offering loans and savings in conjunction with local banks as well as commercial payment services.
It has also fueled Safaricom's earnings growth in recent years, with service revenues rising by 18% in the six months to end of September to 35.52 billion Shallini ($ 349.43 million), nearly one-third of the total.
The new service will allow 21 million active M-Pesa users to send and receive money around the world using their mobile phones linked to half a million Western Union agents.
"M-PESA Global seeks to connect Kenyans with opportunities, making it easier for them to deal with the world and for the world to deal with the Kenyans," said Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, Safaricom's Financial Services Director.
World Money Transfer Western Union President Odilon Almeida said the integration of the two platforms would allow users to send and receive money from and to more than 200 countries and regions.
"It will become a model for opening up a world of global connectivity and economic opportunities for emerging and developed economies," Almeida said.
Eric Musau, a Safaricom analyst at Standard Investment Bank, said M-Pesa Global will help the company acquire a share of the funds sent by Kenyans living abroad, which in the last few months averaged 200 million dollars per month.
"It will help them build on an existing market, which is an important market, so this is a positive one," Musau said.
Users will also be able to send money to bank accounts in the United Arab Emirates, Germany and the UK immediately by adding more countries in the coming weeks, Safaricom said.
Although Safaricom, which belongs to Vodacom and Vodafone, has 30 million subscribers and leads the lead among the three Kenyan operators to other services such as voice calls, short messages and data, considers that M-Pesa offers a real competitive advantage . experience.
The Google Play apps and gaming store began receiving payments in Kenya via M-Pesa last February. Safaricom also explores the possibility of extending M-Pesa to other African nations such as Ethiopia.
M-Pesa users will be able to access an overdraft service in their accounts next week to enable them to pay for goods and services and return later, said Safaricom last week. ($ 1 = 101.6500 Kenya Shillings) (Reference by Duncan Miriri, Ed Edmond and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)