Nairobi is set to host the African headquarters of M-Pesa, putting the Kenyan capital at a vantage position to oversee penetration of the money transfer and payments platform across the continent.
The announcement comes after South African telco, Vodacom, and its Kenyan subsidiary, Safaricom, said they had jointly completed acquisition of the M-Pesa brand from Vodafone, the UK-based telecommunications giant.
“Nairobi will now host the Africa head office for the Joint Venture, we’re excited that the management, support and development of the M-Pesa platform has now been relocated to Kenya,” outgoing Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph told The EastAfrican.
The newly-created joint venture will oversee expansion of M-Pesa into African markets.
M-Pesa is the largest payments platform on the African continent, with 40 million users in Kenya, Tanzania, Lesotho, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Mozambique and Egypt. The platform processes over a billion transactions every month.
Launched by Safaricom in 2007, M-Pesa was the first and remains the most successful mobile money transfers and payments service.
Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub described the acquisition as a milestone that will accelerate financial services aspirations in Africa.
“Our joint venture will allow Vodacom and Safaricom to drive the next generation of the M-Pesa platform - an intelligent, cloud-based platform for the smartphone age. It will also help us to promote greater financial inclusion and help bridge the digital divide within the communities in which we operate,” said Mr Joosub.
Mr Joseph said the new partnership with Vodacom “will allow for consolidation of the M-Pesa platform development, synchronise more closely our product roadmaps, and improve our operational capabilities into a single, fully converged Centre of Excellence.”
About a quarter of all M-Pesa customers have access to a smartphone - a figure that is estimated to be growing by 10 per cent every year.
The disposal of the M-Pesa brand, support and product development services to Vodacom and Safaricom was described as being financially neutral for Vodafone Group, which has a controlling stake over the entities.