Financial inclusion

M-Pesa , our mobile payment service, contributes to economic development in emerging markets by enabling access to financial services for people without bank accounts

Financial inclusion

Our M-Pesa mobile money transfer service offers people without a bank account access to financial services through their mobile phone, enhancing their ability to improve their lives and livelihoods.

M-Pesa was launched in 2007, enabling people to transfer small amounts of money to friends and family safely and affordably via their mobile phone. It is now a well-established part of our business with over 19.9 million active users1 in nine markets.

M-Pesa continues to evolve beyond traditional money transfer services, enabling people to save and borrow money, receive salaries and benefits, pay for goods and services and more. It also supports solutions that can improve lives and livelihoods in other areas such as Agriculture and Health.

Read on to find out more about M-Pesa and our performance in 2014/15.

Extending access to finance

M-Pesa is helping to extend access to financial services, particularly in markets where a high percentage of the population are ’unbanked’ – people who do not have access to a bank account. In Kenya, where M-Pesa first started, only 29% of adults have access to a bank account but 68% of adults now actively use mobile money services2.

Now well established in both Kenya and Tanzania, M-Pesa continues to have a strong and growing presence in Africa. Since 2013, it has been extended to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Lesotho, Mozambique and South Africa.

In 2014/15, we completed our national rollout of M-Pesa in India, where 60% of adults are unbanked. We collaborated with ICICI Bank to support domestic money transfers that help migrant workers send money home to their families in a safe, secure and inexpensive way. This was also the first full year that M-Pesa has been available in Romania – its first European market – where 39% of the population do not have bank accounts3. The service offers access to mobile money transfer and payment services to approximately 7 million Romanians who rely mainly on cash transactions.

There are now 19.9 million active users of M-Pesa worldwide. In 2014/15, the number of active users increased by 18% and we processed 3.4 billion transactions, up 20% from 2013/14.

Investing in distribution agents and outlets is critical to the success and accessibility of M-Pesa. We have approximately 273,000 agents across all M-Pesa markets, extending access to mobile financial services as well as offering employment opportunities.

We are also investing in ambassador programmes to help new customers feel confident and comfortable using the service. In 2014/15, our ambassador programme in Tanzania helped to increase the number of women in our distribution network. So far, approximately 1,400 women have completed their training.

Developing new mobile money solutions

We are extending M-Pesa services beyond basic money transfers to enable people to save and borrow money, send and receive money internationally, make cash-free payments for goods and services, and receive salaries and government benefits securely, regardless of whether they have a bank account.

In a collaboration between Vodacom and the Commercial Bank of Africa, M-Pesa customers in Tanzania can now access interest-bearing savings accounts through a mobile money service known as M-Pawa. M-Pawa customers can take out small loans and earn interest on savings as small as one Tanzanian shilling (equivalent to around a thirtieth of a penny in the UK).

This builds on a similar product launched in 2013/14 in Kenya, known as M-Shwari, which now has 5.8 million active customers. In 2014/15, M-Shwari customers gained access to a new mobile savings plan, Lock Savings Account, which enables them to save money through a fixed deposit and earn higher rates of interest.

Merchants in Kenya and Tanzania can now accept payments for goods and services from their customers via their mobile phones using the M-Pesa Buy Goods functionality. The ability to receive payments through this service, known as Lipa Na M-Pesa in Kenya and Lip Kwa M-Pesa in Tanzania, makes business owners less susceptible to the risks of handling cash, such as theft and fake currency. People in Kenya can now also use M-Pesa to top up cashless travel cards for public transport.

Our M-Pesa International Money Transfer service continues to expand. People can now use the service to send and receive money directly from their M-Pesa accounts between Kenya and Tanzania. In addition, funds can be sent to M-Pesa accounts from a growing number of countries through our international remittance partners, such as MoneyGram and WorldRemit. Increasing mobile money transfers into developing economies supports economic and social development. It provides more choice for senders of cross-border money transfers and gives M-Pesa customers a cheaper, more convenient way to receive money.

Vodafone partnered with the National Rural Health Mission and Rural Employment Guarantee in 2014/15, to use M-Pesa to disburse much-needed government benefits in the states of Bihar and Jharkhand in India. In recognition of this work, M-Pesa was named ’most inclusive digital wallet’ and received the Financial Inclusion through Business Innovation Award at the 2015 BFSI Leadership Awards in Mumbai.

Notes:

  1. Active users are those who have made a potentially chargeable transaction in the last 30 days.
  2. InterMedia Financial Inclusion Insights Survey of Kenya, 2013
  3. World Bank, 2014