Skip to content
Payment Card YearbooksPayment Card Yearbooks
Vodafone launch M-pesa in Europe

Vodafone launch M-pesa in Europe

M-pesa has arrived in Europe as Vodafone seeks to spread the popular digital currency outside emerging markets.

Vodafone has acquired an e-money licence to operate financial services in Europe, with

M-Pesa logo

Vodafone’s M-Pesa mobile money service made its European debut on Monday, after the operator made it available to customers in Romania.

plans to launch M-Pesa in Romania as a first step to potential expansion in the region.

M-Pesa has become so popular in parts of Africa that it is now a virtual currency, offering a secure means of payment for people who do not have easy access to banking services. A mobile phone text message is all that is needed to pay for everything from bills and schools fees to flights and fish, and means that the mobile phone can double as an office for the continent’s smaller entrepreneurs – report the Financial Times.

Vodafone now hopes to win over an estimated 7 million Romanians who mainly use cash.

Michael Joseph, Vodafone director of mobile money, said that the European e-money license would allow Vodafone to operate M-Pesa in other markets, although he indicated that the focus would be on central and Eastern Europe. “There are one or two [countries] we are looking at but [these are] unlikely to be in Western Europe in the next year or so,” he said, adding that countries with a large migrant population such as Italy were potential markets.

There was also the chance to extend the platform into savings, loans and insurance in the same way Vodafone had done in Africa, he added. Within little more than a year of launching its M-Pesa-based loans and savings platform, M-Shwari, at the end of 2012,

Vodafone’s Kenyan operator banked more than $270 million. Vodafone has also considered expanding M-Pesa to countries where it has partnership arrangements with the local telecoms groups but no mobile telecoms business.

In Kenya, where M-Pesa launched in 2007, the platform is so widely used that a third of the country’s $44 billion economy washes through the system, sold by 79,000 agents nationwide. It has since been extended to Tanzania, Egypt, Lesotho and Mozambique.

More recently, M-Pesa has been introduced in India, where Vodafone is seeing rapid growth given the large numbers of people without bank accounts. More than 1 million people have registered in India, although Vodafone expects that will accelerate if revised regulations being considered by ease restrictions on such money platforms.

The launch comes amid controversy over other digital means of payment such as Bitcoin. However, M-Pesa is not a digital currency; rather, it is a means of exchanging money already on mobile phone accounts.

Romanian M-Pesa customers will be able to transfer as little as one new Romanian leu (0.22 euro cents) up to 30,000 lei (€6,715) per day.

“The majority of people in Romania have at least one mobile device, but more than one-third of the population do not have access to conventional banking,” Mr Joseph said.

M-Pesa had about 16.8 million active customers at the end of last year, generating about €900 million in transactions per month. While M-Pesa was originally conceived as a means to retain customers in Kenya’s mobile phone market, it is now profitable in its own right with

$143 million in revenues from the 18.2 million M-Pesa customers in Kenya alone, or about 18% of overall country sales.

The post Vodafone launch M-pesa in Europe appeared first on Payments Cards & Mobile.

Cart 0

Your cart is currently empty.

Start Shopping