Over a Million Tanzanian Join Vodacom's M-Pesa

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Over a million people have registered with Vodacom's M-Pesa mobile phone-based money transfer service in the past 18 months, senior Vodacom officials said last week. Addressing journalists in Dar es Salaam, the officials said registered customers make an average of 30,000 transactions worth Sh700 million each day.

"This translates into transactions worth Sh17 billion in a month .we have managed to reach out to Tanzanians who do not own bank accounts," marketing managing executive Ephraim Mafuru said.

Only about 11 per cent of Tanzania's population have bank accounts, of which 16 per cent are in urban areas and four per cent in rural areas, according to a 2006 survey conducted jointly by FinMark Trust, Steadman Group and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Vodacom's head of M-Pesa sales, Franklin Bagalla, said the service had made a significant impact on people's lives since it was launched in April, last year.

"It is estimated that 11 million Tanzanians solely rely on receiving money from family and friends and that most of these people live in the rural areas these are the people who significantly benefit from M-Pesa," he said. The company plans to make the service international. Kenya's Safaricom, which pioneered in the service and had over five million customers by early this year, has already done so.

"By June next year, we will be in position to say what has been done in the regard to have the service go international," Bagalla said, noting that this would be done after thorough consultations with the relevant regulatory agencies.

The Citizen