Vodafone starts European M-pesa launch in Romania

Vodafone has launched M-pesa in Romania, in what it says is the first step towards rolling the m-payment service out across Europe.

Vodafone has launched M-pesa in Romania, in what it says is the first step towards rolling the m-payment service out across Europe.

The service is already live in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, India and Afghanistan.

Michael Joseph, Vodafone director of mobile money, said that the network operator plans to roll out M-pesa in other markets with a focus on central and Eastern Europe.

"There are one or two countries we are looking at but these are unlikely to be in Western Europe in the next year or so.

"The majority of people in Romania have at least one mobile device, but more than one-third of the population does not have access to conventional banking."

M-pesa, which means "mobile money" in Swahili, was first launched in Kenya seven years ago. It is aimed at developing markets, where many people who are not currently banked possess mobile phones.

Romania has many unbanked people, particularly in rural districts. On about 21m Romanians, approximately 7m transact mainly in cash.

The service allows users to make and receive payments via their mobile device, mostly by SMS. It operates over any of Vodafone Romania’s mobile network connections, including 4G services.

M-pesa can be activated at around 300 Vodafone Romania stores. Customers can use it to send/receive amounts as low as one new Romanian leu – RON1 – ($0.31) or as much as RON30,000 ($9,257) per day.

The system allows users to buy airtime, pay utility bills, make deposits and withdraw cash from participating agents. Also they can buy goods from retailers that take M-pesa – Vodafone expects it to be handled at 2,000 retail and distribution points by the end of the year.

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