Kenya telecoms operator Safaricom and Western Union have entered into a partnership to enable M-Pesa customers to seamlessly send and receive money around the world.
The partnership, which was signed in Nairobi, early this week enables M-Pesa’s 21 million customers transfer cash directly from M-Pesa wallets to Western Union’s network of about agents in 200 countries around the world.
The service will be provided under Safaricom’s m-Pesa Global brand, which already allows international payment to PayPal accounts and other cash transfer applications, including WorldRemit and HomeSend.
This means M-Pesa users are now able to settle low-value overseas bills such as sending students pocket money directly from the phone, while foreigners working in Kenya can remit cash back home to their families.
The cash sent from M-Pesa will be collected from Western Union agents, while transfers to bank accounts are possible to clients in the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and Germany, Safaricom said.
“What I am seeing is that Safaricom are at the low end of these (remittance) charges in our network. They are encouraging people to come in and use this,” Western Union’s regional vice president for Southern, East and Anglophone West Africa Richard Malcolm said.
“We believe this breakthrough collaboration with Safaricom will spur a world of new possibilities for mobile financial service operators to directly scale globally and provide customers with the choice to send or receive money to and from more than 200 countries and territories. It will become a model for opening a world of global connectivity and economic opportunity for emerging as well as developed economies,” Odilon Almeida, President, Western Union Global Money Transfer, is quoted as saying.
Safaricom has helped millions of Kenyans establish financial services on mobile wallets within Kenya.
More than 1.7 billion transactions are processed over M-PESA annually, equivalent to more than 50 percent of Kenya’s GDP value.
“By opening up M-PESA to the world, we aim to enable a world of opportunity for Kenyans by making it easy and seamless for them to connect with the world,” said Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, Chief Financial Services Officer at Safaricom.
“With M-PESA Global, Safaricom customers enjoy the benefits of a globally connected world at the touch of the button, whenever and wherever they want to. The world is at their fingertips, whether they are sending money to a loved one overseas or receiving money from abroad.”
Kenya, a net remittance receiver at USD $2 billion, last year saw a 13 percent year-over-year rise in 2017, according to the World Bank. During the same period, outbound remittances topped USD $36 million, tracking similar growth rates, at 13 percent.