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Works well in Kenya too

CASH CALL: The M-Pesa mobile-phone based money transfer service has over 9. 5 million subscribers

Internationally, one of the most successful mobile money services is M-Pesa of Kenya — a mobile phone-based money transfer service that was developed by Sangentia, the technology consultancy firm that works for Vodafone from Canada. Incidentally, M is for mobile and Pesa is Swahili for money.

Safaricom launched the mobile money transfer service, the first of its kind in the world, in partnership with Vodafone in March 2007. And by the end of March 2010, the service had over 9. 5 million subscribers and over 18, 000 agent outlets across the country.

The service does not require users to have a bank account — an important aspect in Kenya, where millions of people do not operate bank accounts. With M-Pesa, account holders can put cash into their account and send it to any other mobile phone user in the country, who can then redeem it at any M-Pesa counter.

M-Pesa customers can hold upto Kshs (Kenya shilling) 50, 000 (one US dollar is Kshs 75) in their accounts at any one time, and can do transactions of up to Kshs 70, 000 in a day. Since M-Pesa's launch, it has facilitated the movement of over Kshs 401 billion in person-to-person transfers.

Apart from Kenya, Vodafone has deployed the service with Vodacom in Tanzania and Roshan in Afghanistan, where the product is known as M-Paisa. In Kenya, the M-Pesa has been extended and now allows subscribers in the UK to send money to Kenya using the service.

M-Pesa is predicted to be just the beginning. Using the mobile phone as a platform, it is believed that several developmental services can be created that penetrate other spheres such as m-health, agribusiness and so on.

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