Vodafone Group Plc will work with MTN Group Ltd., Africa’s largest wireless operator, to ease mobile-banking services in parts of the continent’s sub-Saharan region.
The partnership will enable customers of Vodafone’s M-Pesa and MTN’s Mobile Money divisions to make low-cost transfers to users of either service among seven African countries, the companies said in a joint statement on Tuesday.
“Together, we aim to build a scalable model that will accelerate remittance roll-out across the continent,” Serigne Dioum, MTN’s head of mobile financial services, said in the statement.
Mobile-money transfers allow people to to pay for services, such as satellite television and electricity, without cash as well as obtain loans and savings accounts in parts of the continent where banks are scarce. Wireless operators are developing financial services to generate sales in Africa as revenue from voice calls declines.
Vodafone, based in Newbury, England, has 7.6 million M-Pesa users in Africa through its Vodacom Group Ltd. unit, and more than 20 million Kenyan subscribers through Safaricom Ltd., in which it has a 40 percent stake. Johannesburg-based MTN has more than 22 million mobile-money users.
Johannesburg-based Vodacom, which is 65 percent owned by Vodafone, is working with MTN and regulators on the development of mobile-money services in South Africa, the continent’s most industrialized economy, spokesman Richard Boorman said by e-mail.
“Discussions are being held among the key industry role players to enable this,” Boorman said. “Our understanding is that the South African Reserve Bank is reviewing the regulations with a view to lowering the barriers to international transfers, which would in turn make the provision of this type of service more affordable.”
MTN shares rose as much as 1.5 percent and were little changed at 225.10 rand as of 11:38 a.m. in Johannesburg. Vodacom gained 1.4 percent to 146.18 rand, while Vodafone declined 0.5 percent to 227.95 pence in London.
The countries where the interconnected M-Pesa and MTN Mobile Money service will be available include Kenya, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Uganda, Rwanda and Zambia.