M-PESA launched in South Africa

South African mobile operator, Vodacom, and the country’s fourth largest bank, Nedbank, have announced the launch of the M-PESA money transfer service, utilising technology developed by the Vodafone Group.

According to a Vodacom press release, M-PESA is a fast, safe and easy way to transfer money from person to person and is a revolutionary way of making cellphone technology work to serve a basic need common to millions of South Africans.

Vodacom and Nedbank expects M-PESA to repeat in South Africa the success seen in Kenya, where 10 million people have adopted the service.

Pieter Uys, Vodacom Group CEO, explains: “There are other cellphone banking products and money transfer services out there, but there quite simply is nothing like M-PESA. The beauty of this service is the ease and speed with which people can send money to each other anywhere in the country.

“As anyone can receive M-PESA without having to be an M-PESA customer or even a Vodacom subscriber, it has the power to reach all cellphone users. The combination of Nedbank’s banking expertise, our knowledge of mobile communications, and Vodafone’s technology and experience of providing M-PESA in other markets has allowed us to bring this world-class service to South Africa. M-PESA caters for all South Africans and is specifically designed to include those who do not have access to bank accounts,” he adds.

Mike Brown, Nedbank Group chief executive, agrees: “In South Africa, cellphone penetration is extremely high, and yet it is estimated that more than 13 million economically active South Africans do not have a bank account. By providing basic financial services accessible to all, M-PESA is well positioned to drive economic activity. We also believe that it will contribute significantly towards easing many of the burdens currently faced by the unbanked in South Africa, thus bringing marginalised individuals into the economic mainstream.”

Cenk Serdar, director of mobile payments, Vodafone Group adds: “Mobile technology has already improved the lives of millions by providing access to communications. The successful roll-out of M-PESA in countries such as Kenya and Tanzania has shown that our technology can meet the demand for easily accessible secure payment services, particularly for those who were previously excluded from the existing systems.”