Teams with Icici Bank for mobile money service in India for unbanked
Vodafone India and ICICI Bank, India's largest private sector bank, have launched M-Pesa, a major mobile money transfer and payment service, in a move to help 700 million of the country's population who previously have had no access to conventional banking.
Following a successful trial, the service will be offered initially through more than 8,300 specially trained and authorised M-Pesa agents in eastern areas of India, including Kolkata, West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand, covering a population of around 220 million people. The service will be rolled out across the rest of India in a phased approach.
M-Pesa opens up a range of banking services which were previously out of reach for a vast number of customers, particularly those living in rural areas with little or no banking infrastructure. It will also allow users working in cities to securely send money home to family and friends living in villages.
M-Pesa was launched by Vodafone in 2007 and is now available in eight countries, including Kenya, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The service allows customers to send and receive small amounts of money via their mobile phones as securely and simply as sending a text message. Prior to M-Pesa, many people in developing markets had no choice but to move cash around in person or by public transport, exposing them to delays, personal risk and loss of money in certain cases.
Marten Pieters, managing director and CEO of Vodafone India, said: 'For millions of people in India, a mobile phone is a bank account, a front door to a micro-business or a lifeline to people in the remotest areas. Research shows that M-Pesa brings real benefits to users in their daily lives, saving three hours a week of their time and around $3 in money transfer costs – a significant amount to people in some areas.
'In partnership with ICICI Bank, we will provide people in remote areas with a convenient way to bank, transfer money and make payments in a safe and secure manner. We have customised our offering to serve the needs of Indian customers while ensuring its compliance with all applicable regulations. Financial inclusion is a national priority and we believe that with M-Pesa, we now have the ideal offering to enable this.'
Rajiv Sabharwal, executive director, ICICI Bank, added: 'ICICI Bank has been at the forefront of technological innovations in banking. With the launch of M-Pesa, we now offer an innovative service that provides basic banking facilities to millions of Indians who still depend on informal channels for their banking needs.
'Our partnership will effectively leverage the security of financial transactions provided to customers by ICICI Bank with Vodafone's significant distribution reach. This launch is line with the Bank's objective of achieving greater financial inclusion. It also enriches the Bank's existing suite of mobile banking offerings.'