Safaricom Partners With WorldRemit To Enable Cross-Border Mobile Money Transfers

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli

 

Kenyan mobile operator Safaricom has partnered with WorldRemit, an international digital money transfer business, to enable cross-border mobile money transfers.

The digital money transfer service has signed a partnership with the Kenyan mobile giant that owns mobile money firm M-Pesa, giving around 28.6 million M-Pesa accounts access to cross-border transfers, according to Techmoran.

Mobile money services have gained impressive traction across Africa, with East Africa in particular establishing itself as a global leader in mobile remittances, with a large unbanked population in many parts of the continent able to transact via their mobile phones.

During 2017, the Central Bank revealed that Kenyans living outside of the country sent home a total of $1.95 billion, according to ITNewsAfrica.

That means that remittances proved to be the largest source of foreign exchange for Kenya, eclipsing the important sectors of tourism and horticulture.

cross-border mobile money
Kenyan customers make money transfers at an M-Pesa counter in Nairobi. Photo – AP – Sayyid Abdul Azim

Around three million Kenyans live abroad, with large communities in North America, Europe and Australia sending money home to Kenya through WorldRemit.

Somalia-born Ismail Ahmed launched WorldRemit eight years ago. The London-based remittance firm sends money to 148 countries and raised $40 million at the end of last year in a deal led by London investment firm LeapFrog Investments, which values the fintech firm at more than $670 million, Bloomberg reported.

Cross-border mobile money transfers building on WorldRemit’s growth

WorldRemit’s growth strategy relies on building additional contact points within African markets, with remittances to Africa increasing by 3.3 percent to $34 billion in 2017, according to the World Bank.

WorldRemit has been focusing on Africa in a big way over the past few years, creating partnerships with established local and international brands, as well as public enterprise in order to get a stronger foothold in the African market.

In October 2017, WorldRemit partnered with Wafacash, a Morocco-based financial services firm, in order to provide instant money transfers to a growing set of African markets.

The Moroccan money transfer market-leader and the global remittance company already worked together in Morocco and Senegal at the time, but this extended their partnership to serve Cameroon, Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger and Cote D’Ivoire by the end of 2017, according to a press release.

In August last year, WorldRemit and the National Bank of Kenya announced an agreement to expand remittance options for Kenyans and those sending money to the country, according to NairobiNews.

The partnership enabled Kenyans living abroad to make instant transfers to Bank of Kenya accounts held in both Kenyan Shillings and U.S. Dollars, as well as send funds in cash for collection in Kenyan Shillings at bank branches.

In July of the same year, Huawei, a Chinese smartphone manufacturer and ICT solutions firm, and WorldRemit joined forces in the African context, allowing Huawei to offer WorldRemit’s international money transfer service to their African customers, according to CNBCAfrica.

The ready-made solution from WorldRemit was added to Huawei’s existing service offering, benefiting over 100 million mobile accounts that were connected to Huawei’s platform.