Huge increase in African mobile money transfers

(iStock)
(iStock)

Cape Town - Kenya’s Mpesa mobile phone-based money- transfer service is becoming more sophisticated and will soon be growing quickly across the continent, according to Western Union vice president for Southern and East Africa Richard Malcolm.

Malcolm said in an interview in Cape Town on Wednesday: "It’s jumping to a new level. It’s expanding its own ecosystem. They’re improving in a direction that meets the needs of the customer. It’s a good story. We should see more of those.”

Safaricom, East Africa’s biggest mobile-network operator, developed Mpesa and says 88% of its customers now use the service.

Kenya Commercial Bank, the nation’s second-biggest lender, wants to attract 15 million customers who do transactions on their mobile phones.

Among innovations offered by Mpesa is that customers can make money transfers between different network operators and between one country and another.

Customers will also be able to buy government securities using their mobile phones.

“It’s slowly gaining traction” across Africa, Malcolm said.

“It empowers the majority of the population. It brings about financial inclusion. Financial inclusion is critical for the continent. I think this is going to snowball.”

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