First Safaricom M-Pesa service unveiled in Europe


First Safaricom M-Pesa service unveiled in Europe

Former Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph has launched M-Pesa in Romania, marking the maiden roll out of the mobile money service in a European country.


Vodafone Romania, a fully-owned subsidiary of Vodafone Group Plc, says it aims to sign up about seven million of its customers at the moment mainly transacting business in cash.

Mr Joseph, the director for mobile money at Vodafone, said the launch was the first of several planned in central and eastern Europe.


The firm has already acquired a European e-licence in preparation for this expansion.

Romanian M-Pesa customers will be able to transfer between Sh26 and Sh792,370 a day, a limit much higher than Kenya’s Sh140,000.




“Vodafone M-Pesa is already used regularly by nearly 17 million customers (globally) and we look forward to bringing the significant benefits of the service to the people of Romania,” he said.

Since the Kenyan launch on M-Pesa in 2007, the service has gained a great reputation locally and internationally, raising the country’s profile as a mobile money service success story.

For instance, Kenyans transacted Sh1.9 trillion on their mobile phones last year (Sh5.2 billion every day), according to Central Bank of Kenya data.


Last year, Safaricom reported a Sh21.8 billion in commissions from M-Pesa, highlighting the contribution of the service to the firm’s bottom line.

Following the Kenya success, several other affiliates of Vodafone — which owns 40 per cent of Safaricom — have tried to replicate the service in their respective countries of operation with varying levels of success.




In the past year alone, the mobile money service has been introduced in Egypt, India, Lesotho and Mozambique. Other countries where M-Pesa is available include South Africa, Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo.


In January, Mr Joseph had to step in to rescue the underperforming M-Pesa service in South Africa through a re-launch. Since its launch in August 2010, the service had by end of last year only attracted just 1.2 million customers.


Mr Joseph noted the failure in South Africa was because most people still prefer using credit cards when carrying out


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