M-Pesa Enters Europe with Romanian Launch (April 1, 2014)
Mobile payment service M-Pesa has arrived in Europe with its launch yesterday in Romania, following expansions into other countries, such as Egypt and India, in recent years. M-Pesa, which debuted in Kenya seven years ago, provides mobile money transfer and payment services to approximately 7 million Romanians who transact mainly in cash, according to an announcement.
“The majority of people in Romania have at least one mobile device, but more than one-third of the population does not have access to conventional banking,” said Michael Joseph, Vodafone director of mobile money. M-Pesa also enables Vodafone Romania’s customers to top up prepaid airtime on mobile devices, pay utility bills, purchase goods and deposit and withdraw cash from participating agents.
Vodafone is not saying whether the service will be rolled out to additional countries on the continent. “We are not announcing specific countries or timing at this point, but we are evaluating additional markets in which there is a sizable unbanked population and can benefit from financial inclusion,” a Vodafone spokesperson tells Paybefore.
Although this is M-Pesa’s first foray into Europe, Vodafone has been working on mobile payments on the continent for a while. The company announced last November it was expanding the European availability of its NFC-based mobile wallet beyond Spain, where it was already live at the time. Vodafone SmartPass, developed in partnership with Visa, was the first mobile payment app available for the wallet.
M-Pesa has nearly 17 million customers and approximately 186,000 authorized agents worldwide, according to Vodafone; and M-Pesa customers make more than of €900 million (US$1.2 billion) in P2P transactions per month. Vodafone announced earlier this year a deal enabling anyone to send funds via MoneyGram’s 334,000 agents worldwide to users of Vodafone’s M-Pesa mobile payment service.