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Vodafone M-Pesa Launches in Europe for the First Time

by Sam Wakoba
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Launched in Kenya by Vodafone’s Safaricom in 2007,  M-Pesa has gone live in Romania, the first country in Europe to power mobile money transfer and payment services.

According to Vodafone Director of Mobile Money Michael Joseph (who was then Safaricom’s CEO), “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. 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.”

M-Pesa is expected to offer simple, safe and secure mobile money transfer and payment services to approximately seven million Romanians who transact mainly in cash while banked customers will also get the convenience of being able to access and transfer money via the mobile phone.

The SMS-based money transfer and payments service can be activated at around 300 Vodafone Romania stores and participating retail outlets and via agents serving approximately six million people in both rural and urban areas.  Over 2000 M-Pesa retail distribution points are expected by end of 2014.

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.  Romanian M-Pesa customers will be able to transfer as little as one new Romanian leu (0.22 euro cents) up to 30,000 lei (€6,715) per day.

M-Pesa in Kenya has gone ahead to power M-Kopa, a credit solar power solution, M-Shwari-a middle and low income savings and borrowing scheme and Linda Jamii, an ObamaCare like health insurance service.

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