Safaricom’s M-PESA has won the Mobile Money for the Unbanked Award at this year’s Global Mobile Awards 2011 which is being held in Barcelona, Spain between February 14th and 17th.
The M-PESA service was launched in March 2007. As of the end of 2010, the service had over 13.5 million customers countrywide. More than 400 organizations acceppt Bill Payment via M-PESA. The service does not require users to have a bank account; an important aspect in Kenya, where millions of people do not have a bank account. With M-PESA, account holders can buy electronic funds at an M-PESA agent and send the electronic value to any other mobile phone user in the country, who can then redeem it for conventional cash at any M-PESA agent. The awards are part of the annual Mobile World Congress which brings together players in the global telecoms market and is organized by the GSMA (Global System for Mobile Communications Association).
The “Mobile Money for the Unbanked” award category recognizes innovative, sustainable, pioneering mobile money services around the world that bring low-cost financial services, through mobile, within the reach of low income groups. The award recognizes the mobile money service that has had the most significant impact on unbanked customers in developing markets over the last year.
The win extends a five times winning streak by Safaricom M-PESA at the GSMA conference in over a three year period, and is a fitting recognition of its leadership in Mobile Money services.
Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore exalted in the win and said it was a validation of ongoing work to expand the M-PESA service in line with meeting the needs of the Kenyan customer.
“I am delighted and congratulate the M-PESA team. This shows that we are leading the evolution of mobile money from simple transfer to a total mobile commerce solution,” he said.
The judges said in their citation: “The success story continues. This solution is enhanced further with the addition of new features and territories. It is winning ground in a way seldom seen in the mobile industry and is a true and sustained success story.”
This years entry, put together jointly with Vodafone, covered M-PESA in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, M-Paisa in Afghanistan, India and Fiji, and Vodafone Money Transfer in Qatar, bringing together the strengths and benefits of the service to the firm’s customers across the group.,
The GSMA, which organizes the awards, represents the interests of the worldwide mobile communications industry. Spanning 219 countries, the GSMA unites nearly 800 of the world’s mobile operators, as well as more than 200 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers, Internet companies, and media and entertainment organizations.
Since the launch of M-PESA in just over 3 years, M-PESA has bagged a total of 12 international awards in its contribution to offering financial inclusion to the un-banked in Kenya.