Vodafone and ICICI expand M-Pesa mobile money banking service

Telecom Lead Asia: Vodafone and ICICI Bank are expanding M-Pesa – a mobile money transfer and payment service –to help 700 million Indians who had no access to conventional banking.

Launched by Vodafone in 2007, M-Pesa is now available in eight countries — Kenya, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo – allowing users to send and receive small amounts of money via their mobile phones.

In India, the mobile money service will be offered initially through more than 8,300 trained and authorized M-Pesa agents in eastern areas of India, including Kolkata, West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand.

Vodafone and ICICI Bank will launch M-Pesa across the rest of India in phases.

Last week, Financial Times reported that Vodafone would launch M-Pesa in South East Asia. It would look at M-Pesa launch as part of its bid for telecom license in Myanmar.

Marten Pieters, managing director and CEO of Vodafone India, said: “For millions of people in India, a mobile phone is a bank account, a front door to a micro-business or a lifeline to people in the remotest areas.”

Research shows that M-Pesa brings real benefits to users in their daily lives, saving three hours a week of their time and around $3 in money transfer costs – a significant amount to people in some areas.

Rajiv Sabharwal, executive director, ICICI Bank, said: “With the launch of M-Pesa, we now offer an innovative service that provides basic banking facilities to millions of Indians who still depend on informal channels for their banking needs.”

M-Pesa has 17.3 million active customers as at 31 December 2012 and currently around 100,000 authorized agents worldwide.

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