Kenya’s popular M-pesa mobile money transfer system has migrated to Europe with its launch in Romania.
M-pesa, meaning ‘mobile money’ in Swahili, is accredited with changing the lives of millions of Africans who have limited or no access to conventional banking services. The concept, which works by customers sending and receiving money via mobile phones using an easy text messaging technology, has changed the manner in which the humanitarian community and several Africans do business.
After its introduction in Kenya seven years ago, M-pesa has since expanded to half a dozen African nations including the Democratic Republic of Congo. Vodafone, a telecommunications company that developed the technology, has also introduced the concept to Fiji and India. Presently, Vodafone has set its sights on Europe with the launch of M-pesa in Romania last month.
Claire Alexandre, leader of M-Pesa’s Commercial and Strategy team within the Vodafone group, stated: “We selected Romania because there was and still is a huge section of the population which does not have a bank account. Approximately 50 percent of Romania’s population has a bank account while the other half mostly uses cash.”
Alexandre further said Romanians who possess bank accounts mostly utilize them to withdraw their salaries. They then rely on cash transactions for the remaining part of the month.
This is however, a custom that Vodafone needs to change. According to the company, its is quite early to mention the number of M-pesa customers there though it is apparent that Africa, where cellphones are widely used, offers a lesson for Europe.
Vodafone has so far not announced any plans to expand elsewhere within Europe. According to the experts, the company might be eyeing other markets though within Central and Eastern Europe.