Kenya: M-Pesa Clients to Access Visa ATMs

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Registered customers of mobile phone money transfer service, M-Pesa, can now withdraw cash in any currency from Visa branded automated teller machines (ATMs) anywhere in the world. They can also make purchases in accepted merchant outlets or shop online.

This follows a partnership deal between Safaricom and I&M Bank under which the phone operator and the bank launched the first Visa branded card that can be loaded from a mobile phone through its M-Pesa money transfer service.

"Users of this service will enjoy the convenience of online shopping as they can easily pay using the Pre-Paid Visa cards and also access their accounts via the internet," said I&M Bank chief executive officer Arun Mathur.

Under the agreement, M-Pesa users will be able to transfer funds from their accounts to the PrePay Safari Card, which is an international Visa card co-branded with I&M Bank.

"The PrePay Safari Card comes as a major boost in the push to broaden M-Pesa services from a money transfer service to a total mobile commerce solution," said Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore, during the signing ceremony held at Safaricom House on Tuesday.

The card can hold up to a maximum of Sh500,000 loaded through the M-Pesa paybill option. The balance can be refunded through I&M Bank branches without having to open an account there.

"It can also be reloaded through M-Pesa in Kenya for a subscriber who has travelled internationally thus deepening its key propositions of convenience and accessibility," said Collymore of a money transfer service, which was launched four years ago and now has more than 13 million users and 23,000 agents.

The partnership comes at a time when the Central Bank of Kenya latest statistics show that mobile money transfer service, which is viewed as holding the key to the future of e-commerce, is now the most widely used mode of financial transactions.

According to the figures, in December last year, a daily average of 929,143 users transacted using mobile phones, dealing about Sh2.43 billion.

In the same month, 558,808 Kenyans moved Sh3.1 billion through automated teller machines, while 34,709 used electronic fund transfers worth Sh1.1 billion. About 70,000 used cheques valued at Sh7 billion while 4,262 used the high value payment system - the real time gross settlement systems, transacting Sh64.9 billion.