Western Union consumers can now send money directly to the mobile wallets of Safaricom M-PESA subscribers in Kenya from 45 countries and territories – the first service of its kind in the world.
The expansion of the service to more than 80 000 Western Union Agent locations worldwide follows the successful debut of the offering from Western Union Agent locations and the westernunion.com web site in the UK.
Apart from the UK, the service is now available from the US, Canada, as well as select countries and territories in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific.
The service rides on Western Union’s worldwide network and trusted global “hub” for processing cross-border remittances. It also builds on the unprecedented success of M-PESA, a domestic mobile money transfer service in Kenya offered by Safaricom that has attracted more than 13,5-million customers since its launch in 2007.
“We are pleased to extend our service with Safaricom, and we look forward to adding additional functionality for M-PESA users in the near future,” says Jean Claude Farah, senior vice-president: Middle East & Africa at Western Union.
The service will allow people to visit one of more than 80 000 Western Union Agent locations in 45 countries and territories across the globe and send funds directly to the mobile “wallets” of M-PESA’s 13,5-million subscribers. Funds are delivered generally in minutes.
The service will likely be welcomed by thousands of Kenyans working abroad. According to the Central Bank of Kenya, Kenyans living outside their home country sent $642-million home in 2010 – up from the $609-million sent home in 2009.
Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore says: "Our customers are very proud of the revolutionary M-PESA service, and this partnership sees us pushing new boundaries to continue to keep Kenya at the forefront of the mobile world. Through this partnership, our customers and their friends and families will benefit from affordable, faster and more convenient international remittances, and the money is available to use straightaway for any M-PESA transaction, or can be withdrawn as cash at any of our 24 000 Safaricom agents.”
Western Union offers the Mobile Money Transfer Service in the Philippines with Smart Communications and Globe Telecom; in Malaysia with Maxis; and in Canada with EnStream. Western Union also has agreements with other mobile operators and banks to introduce the service in the future.