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By Macharia Kamau

Published Wed, November 7th 2018 at 00:00, Updated November 6th 2018 at 23:13 GMT +3

Kenyans can now receive or send cash instantly around the globe using the M-Pesa platform.This has been made possible following a partnership between Safaricom and Western Union to enable its subscribers to receive money from friends, relatives and business associates outside Kenya directly to their mobile wallet. 

Launching the M-Pesa Global, Safaricom said the new service will enable M-Pesa users to send money to other parts of the world through channels such as bank accounts or money transfer services. Beneficiaries in other countries can withdraw funds from Western Union agent locations. While users have previously been able to receive money from other markets in the past, it is the first time that Kenyans can send cash abroad using M-Pesa.

Other than Western Union, Safaricom has partnerships with several remittance firms including PayPal and World Remit. “M-Pesa Global enables businesses to instantly access opportunities anywhere in the world. It takes away the hustle of grappling where to find forex, save you the trouble of looking for a money agent and peace of mind of knowing that your transfer goes to your recipient, saving you the trouble of tracing your transfers across multiple financial system,” said Sylvia Mulinge, Chief Customer Officer, Safaricom yesterday. “The new service will allow anyone from virtually anywhere in the world to send money to any M-Pesa customer in Kenya…. M-Pesa customers can (also) send money to almost any individual across the world through a variety of channels including directly into their bank accounts,” said Safaricom.

“In addition to already existing channels, M-Pesa Global will immediately enable customers to send money for pick up at more than 500,000 Western Union agent locations across the world. Transfers through bank accounts to the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and Germany will also be available immediately, with services to bank accounts in other countries being rolled out in the coming weeks.”

Remittances from the diaspora have grown to be the largest source of foreign exchange for Kenya, bringing the country Sh197 billion last year, ahead of Sh129 billion earnings by the tea industry and Sh120 billion generated from tourism. The money is largely sent to the country through traditional financial remittance platforms operated by banks and global money transfer services. Going by the volume of money sent by Kenyans working abroad, it is lucrative and might prove a critical growth area for M-Pesa. 

“Over the last six years, the rate of growth in remittances has more than doubled. This level of growth would have been impossible to maintain were it not for the mobile phone,” said Safaricom’s Chief Financial Services Officer, Sitoyo Lopokoiyit.

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