Safaricom has launched a low cost money transfer service that will enable
users to send and receive money through their mobile phones, says CEO Michael Joseph.
Joseph says the service dubbed “M-PESA” will allow users an affordable, fast,
convenient, and safe way to transfer money by SMS anywhere in Kenya.
“Through M-PESA users will be able to deposit and withdraw money, send money to
another M-PESA customer or to someone who is not a subscriber of Safaricom,” said
Joseph explains the new service will work on new generation SIM cards, which will be
available for free at authorized agents. “For users to access this service, all they have to
do is register at any authorized M-PESA agent for free, by providing them with their
Safaricom mobile number and their identification card,” he explained.
“Once registered, customers will be given an M-PESA enabled SIM card, which will
allow them to put money into their account by depositing cash with an authorized agent.”
M-Pesa users will be able to withdraw cash after receiving an SMS, informing them of
the transaction. Clients who are not Safaricom subscribers will also be able to receive
their funds, on notification of transmission.
Customers do not need to have a bank account to benefit from M-Pesa services. Users
will deposit their money with authorized agents and withdraw the same from the mobile
phone service provider’s airtime distribution outlets.
Joseph says users will be allowed a maximum of Kshs 35,000 and a minimum of shs 100
for each transmission.
He also pointed out; the service’s ability to store money in mobile phones in the form of
e-cash, would benefit a larger percentage of the population who remain unbanked. “This
service will act as a virtual bank, where you can pass the day without carrying cash,
credit cards or debit cards by paying for everything, including consumer goods with the
e-cash stored on your mobile phone,” said Joseph.
Users of the service will be able to make several transactions via their mobile phones, for
instance paying school fees, construction workers in remote areas, insurance premiums,
utility bills and rent among other things.
Joseph added, the introduction of the service is part of the company’s commitment
towards offering premium products and services at affordable prices.
“We are committed to being a leading provider of quality mobile phone services in the
country and we will work hand in hand with our customers to serve their needs,” he said.
Kenya is the first country in the world to utilize this service, following an extensive pilot
study carried out with the mobile phone service provider’s parent company Vodafone to
gauge its viability.
Vodafone, which owns 40% of Safaricom, plans to rollout a similar service in
Afghanistan before the end of the year, and later Tanzania, South Africa and other
countries where Vodafone has a presence.