If you are among Safaricom M-PESA’s 13.5 million customers then good news for you. You can now receive international money transfers from 45 countries after an agreement between Safaricom and Western Union. From any of the 80,000 Western Union agent locations across the globe, including the U.S, Canada, Italy and the U.K., M-Pesa clients can conveniently receive money from the locations.
This move is a game changer for Safaricom and Western Union. The mobile service provider, Safaricom, through its M-Pesa service, has been handling the kind of transactions which even Western Union just dream of. As the number portability becomes operational today, Safaricom is sure to retain a good number of clients through such a deal. The service will capitalise on Western Union’s worldwide network and the unprecedented local success of M-PESA.
According to the Central Bank of Kenya, Kenyans living outside their home country sent US$642 million home in 2010 – up from the US$609 million sent home in 2009. The only problem is that the Kenyans living abroad have been having problems with the high cost of money transfer charged by Western Union. This might change since the same Kenyans in the diaspora might not mind paying premium price for a service which delivers direct to the intended recipient.
Speaking at Safaricom headquarters in Nairobi, CEO Bob Collymore said, “Our customers are very proud of the revolutionary M-PESA service, and this partnership sees us pushing new boundaries to continue to keep Kenya at the forefront of the mobile world. Through this partnership, our customers and their friends and families will benefit from affordable, faster and more convenient international remittances, and the money is available to use straightaway for any M-PESA transaction, or can be withdrawn as cash at any of our 24,000 Safaricom agents.”
“In the past few months, we have seen impressive adoption of the mobile channel,” said David Yates, Executive Vice President and President, Business Development and Innovation, Western Union. “In some cases, with successful mobile wallet programs like M-PESA, we have seen anywhere from 25 percent to 40 percent of transactions going to a mobile wallet vs. a traditional cash payout. We are pleased to extend our service with Safaricom, and we look forward to adding additional functionality for M-PESA users in the near future.