Vodafone’s M-Pesa mobile money service opened its first international corridor on Monday, enabling customers in Kenya and Tanzania to transfer funds to one another via a handset.
“With a substantial unbanked population transacting mainly in cash, the Tanzania-Kenya
corridor represents a significant opportunity for M-Pesa to give people and companies an accessible, low-cost alternative to traditional international remittances,” said Michael Joseph, director of mobile money at Vodafone, in a statement.
According to the World Bank, remittances between the two countries reached $133 million in 2012. Fees for using traditional channels like banks or money transfer operators can be up to 31% of the transaction, Vodafone claims. By comparison, sending $50 via M-Pesa will incur a fee of around 1% plus a foreign exchange charge.
The move is part of a broader plan by Vodafone to make M-Pesa even more pervasive.
Last year the service made its European debut by rolling out in Romania, a country where cash is the favoured payment method of around 7 million consumers.
It also has a partnership with money transfer provider MoneyGram, enabling people in 200 countries to send funds to M-Pesa accounts.