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M-Pesa Eyes Global Remittances Trillion-dollar Market


M-Pesa, the fintech service provided by telecom company, Safaricom, is dipping its feet into the remittance market through a partnership with eCommerce behemoth, Amazon.

Founded in 2007, M-Pesa has become a major provider of financial services in the East African region through its mobile money service. In September 2021, the company announced that it had hit 50 million monthly active customers.

The service is available in Kenya, where it has more than 30 million customers, Tanzania, Lesotho, Ghana, Mozambique, Egypt, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Now serving 51 million customers, M-Pesa enables users to conduct transactions valued at more than $314 billion annually. It is also responsible for 60% of formal remittances into Kenya and 20% in Tanzania.

With its success on the mobile money front, it is now testing itself in the remittance market. In 2022, the World Bank reported that the remittance market in low and middle-income countries grew 5% to $626 billion, presenting an opportunity for players like M-Pesa.

Growth will, however, not come easy as the threat of existing players such as Western Union and MoneyGram remains. Consequently, plans are in motion to separate M-Pesa from its parent company, Safaricom, with analysts believing that Safaricom’s falling share price negatively impacts M-Pesa.

According to Aly-Khan Satchu, CEO of Rich Management Ltd, a split from Safaricom will enable M-Pesa to attract new investors.

“I think the overall Safaricom share price is now a drag on the M-Pesa valuation and that a spin-off will create value for shareholders, attract a new class of international shareholders and allow for efficient capital allocation into M-Pesa.”

The partnership with Amazon will not be the first time both companies have been in talks. In 2021, Bloomberg reported that the two companies were in talks to incorporate M-Pesa as a payment option on Amazon. At the time, M-Pesa was responsible for a third of Safaricom’s revenue at a time when the company reported its first profit decline in 10 years.

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