SouthAfricaLondon, Barcelona – Tuesday 16 February, 2010. Vodafone announces that it is bringing M-PESA, one of the world’s most successful mobile money transfer services, to South Africa, to be deployed by its subsidiary, Vodacom South Africa and its South African banking partner. With approximately 26 million people in South Africa without official bank accounts, M-PESA will enable millions of mobile phone subscribers who have access to a mobile phone, but do not have or have only limited access to a bank account, to send and receive money via their mobile phones.

M-PESAThe M-PESA service was developed by Vodafone and has already been deployed by Safaricom in Kenya, Vodacom in Tanzania and Roshan in Afghanistan (branded M-Paisa).  More than 11 million registered customers now rely on their mobile phones for money transfer, airtime top-up and bill payments.

“Mobile technology in Africa has already improved the lives of millions simply by allowing them to communicate far beyond their immediate surroundings,” said Cenk Serdar, Director of Mobile Payments at Vodafone Group.  “It is now set to transform the way we send and receive cash. The successful take-up of M-PESA in Kenya has clearly demonstrated the demand for easily accessible, secure payment services particularly in emerging markets.

“There are many benefits of using mobile phones for micro-transactions in a country like South Africa, where only 60% of people have a bank account in the formal sector, and yet the mobile penetration rate amongst the total adult population is more than 94%.”

Research* shows that financial services are critical for economic development and inclusive financial services for the unbanked are essential for poverty reduction. Lack of access to banking services is forcing many to rely on a cash-based economy with little security.. Mobile technology can assist in enabling millions to take part and benefit from a more formal economy which will in turn drive economic development.

Vodafone has long been committed to providing products and services which will benefit emerging economies where mobiles are used, valued and owned in ways that are very different from developed countries.  Most recently Vodafone announced the release of the Vodafone 150 and Vodafone 250, ultra low cost handsets (ULCH) which will retail at under USD15 and are intended to give those on low incomes the opportunity to share in the benefits of mobile technology for the first time.

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