Friday, October 1, 2010

Safaricom Plans to Increase Maximum Cash Transfer

CONVERGED communication solutions provider Safaricom has announced plans to increase its deposits in its M-Pesa services, with the aim of enabling its customers to transact larger amounts of money.

The operator plans to increase the maximum amount that a subscriber can transact in a day to
US$ 650, up from the current US$450.

Outgoing Safaricom Chief Executive officer Michael Joseph said the company intends to split M-Pesa into two arms, one for customer-to-customer (C2C) transactions, and the other for customer-to-business (C2B) transactions.

Joseph said the company forwarded the proposed upgrade of its M-Pesa money transfer service facility to the Kenyan Central Bank (CBK), and would commence implementing it as soon as CBK okayed the changes.

He said they had realised that some of the transactions require customers to transfer larger amounts than the current limit of US$450. Safaricom also plans to upgrade the service to link it with the Internet, a move that is expected to enable customers to make M-Pesa transactions online. Currently, transactions are only made through mobile handsets.

Joseph said Safaricom would strive to remain a market leader in the data segment, with M-Pesa remaining its most formidable weapon.

“M-Pesa has become more than just a marketing tool for us in providing services to our subscribers conveniently,” he said.

Close to 300 companies have partnered with Safaricom to settle bills via M-Pesa. Joseph revealed that they were in talks with the CBK for permission to increase the money transfer limits on M-Pesa, which is currently capped at Sh35 000 per transaction.

“We want to take the maximum amount you can transact to Sh50 000 (US$650) and also lower the minimum amount, but all that is subject to CBK approval,” he said without giving a clear timeline on when that would happen.

Adoption of mobile banking has been taking root in the country to speed up access to financial services and reach the un-banked population.

“We are moving close to €150 million (Sh16.5 billion) a day; that’s an incredible amount of money. We are moving more money in a month than what Western Union does,” he said.

Joseph said the mobile market is gearing for a major battle in the control of the customer numbers.
“It is not really a price war; it’s a total war, which Safaricom intends to win not by an inch, or a foot but by a long mile,” Joseph said.

Safaricom’s dominance in the mobile industry has come under pressure by the entrance of Bharti Airtel, Zain Africa’s new shareholders, who have made it clear they are out to attain leadership in the next three to four years.

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