M-PESA shakes hand with Western Union in 45 countries

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By Prince Osuagwu

Western Union has just announced that consumers can now send money directly to the mobile wallets of M-PESA subscribers in Kenya, from 45 countries and territories in the world.

M-PESA, is a domestic mobile money transfer service in Kenya offered by Safaricom. It is said to have attracted more than 13.5 million customers since its launch in 2007.

The alliance becomes one of the first service of its kind in the world and also takes the expansion of the service to more than 80,000 Western Union Agent locations worldwide.

The partnership, follows the successful debut of the offering from Western Union Agent locations and the westernunion.com website in the U.K.

Meanwhile, the service is now available from more than 10 African countries, including: Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Uganda and Zambia.

The service rides on Western Union’s worldwide network and trusted global hub for processing cross-border remittances.

Senior Vice President, Middle East and Africa, Western Union, Mr Jean Claude Farah, said that Western Union was pleased to extend its service to Safaricom and looked forward to adding additional functionality for M-PESA users in the near future.

The service will allow people to visit one of more than 80,000 Western Union Agent locations in 45 countries and territories across the globe and send funds, which would be delivered in minutes directly to the mobile wallets of M-PESA’s 13.5 million subscribers.

The service will likely be welcomed by thousands of Kenyans working abroad. 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.

Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore said that, “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international remittances, and the money is available to use straightaway for any M-PESA transaction, or can be withdrawn as cash at any of our 24,000 Safaricom agents.”

Western Union offers the Mobile Money Transfer Service in the Philippines with Smart Communications and Globe Telecom; in Malaysia with Maxis; and in Canada with EnStream. Western Union also has agreements with other mobile operators and banks to introduce the service in the future.

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