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Kenya’s M-Pesa Introduced To The European Market

by Felix Omondi

Kenya’s M-Pesa Introduced To The European Market

Kenya’s M-Pesa service serves as the best example of the most-successful mobile money transfer service in the world, not forgetting it is a Kenyan brainchild. In a move that signifies the imminent importation of African technology into the European market, M-Pesa services have been rolled out in Romania.

Mobile money transfer services have disrupted the way businesses, and humanitarian services conduct their affairs in Africa. While at it, millions of Africans who lacked access to the conventional banking services, have benefited immensely forcing many banks to rethink their approach to doing business in Africa with regards to convenience and mass appeal.

Kenya’s M-Pesa Introduced To The European MarketWhether or not, M-Pesa will become as successful in the European market, as it is in the African market remains to be seen. The basic concept of M-Pesa is users being able to send and receive money using their mobile phones via text messaging technology.

The M-Pesa service was launched in Kenya about seven years ago, and has had a very successful run ever since; something that led to it being launched in other African countries, including Uganda, Tanzania, DRC and South Africa.

Telecom giant, Vodafone – credited for developing the technology, has also introduced it to the Indian and Fiji markets just recently. The company’s next move is to penetrate the European market with this revolutionary mobile transfer service, by rolling it out in Romania.

Claire Alexandre, M-Pesa’s Commercial and Strategy team leader within the Vodafone group, said, “We chose Romania because there was, and there is still, a large part of the population which doesn’t have a bank account. Only about 50% of the population of Romania has a bank account. And the other half is mostly still using cash.”

Alexandre, as cited by VOA, further elaborated that of those Romanians with bank accounts, they mostly use it to withdraw salaries and often prefer transacting in cash for the rest of the month. This is a habit the company intends to change. The company representative said, “it’s too early to talk about the number of M-Pesa customers there, but it’s clear that Africa, where mobile phone use has exploded offers a lesson for Europe.”

VOA cited Alexandre saying, “Looking at how people communicate with each other, how they interact with each other, we realized that people talk to each other, but often they need to send or to receive money from each other… So we’ve expanded that further. So if you look at those basic needs, then there are other markets where those needs haven’t been met either. And we saw that was actually the case in Romania.”

Vodafone has also not shown any intentions of rolling the M-Pesa services into other European markets apart from Romania. Although experts are predicting that the most-likely next target market would be eastern and central Europe.

According to Alexandre, the market seems to be stubborn and cherishes brand names. Hence, “So wherever it next travels, M-Pesa will keep its moniker and its Swahili roots.”

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