Vodafone today announced that its mobile money service M-Pesa has surpassed 25 million subscribers worldwide.
The operator said across its markets in Africa, Asia and Europe, the number of active M-Pesa customers increased by 27.1 per cent to 25.3 million in the year ended 31 March 2016. Subscriber numbers were boosted in particular by market launches in Albania and Ghana, Vodafone said, as well as by its active network of more than 261,000 M-Pesa agents in 11 countries.
“Since 2007, M-Pesa has enhanced the lives and livelihoods of people without bank accounts, giving them access to essential financial services through their mobile phones,” said Vodafone group director of mobile money, Michael Joseph. “I am delighted and proud that M-Pesa has reached the 25 million active customers milestone. M-Pesa continues to expand, evolving beyond traditional money transfers to encompass savings and loans, payment of salaries and benefits, settlement of utility bills and school fees and to enable vital health and agricultural solutions.”
The company entered into a number of partnerships over the last year, rolling out a number of new products and services. Vodafone highlighted governmental partnerships in Lesotho to pay welfare grants using M-Pesa; in Kenya, with the Ministry of Agriculture now paying fertilizer subsidies using M-Pesa; and in India, where the National Rural Livelihoods Mission utilises M-Pesa to enable financial inclusion for women’s groups and the National Rural Health Mission uses the service to disburse pre-natal health benefits.
Vodafone drew particular attention to its work in India, where in addition to the governmental projects, a newly created M-Pesa smartphone app enables Indian customers to use the service to pay for goods on Ebay, for taxis with TabCab and to book train tickets on India’s national railways.
The operator also pointed to a number of its projects in Africa as key developments over the last year.
- In Lesotho, subscribers can now convert airtime to M-Pesa credit to pay for emergency treatment; while numerous community health workers are now paid via M-Pesa.
- In Mozambique, development agencies are paying salaries via M-Pesa; and the utility providers and national airline accept payment via the service.
- A range of clean energy providers in Tanzania have opted to take payment via M-Pesa; while in Kenya the new M-Tiba service launched - a mobile health wallet that channels money from donors and government meant for health services directly to recipients.
In addition, Vodafone said the past year saw it conclude a number of agreements aimed at improving interoperability and cross-border transactions.