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Kenya's Safaricom, Moneygram sign money transfer deal

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The logo of MoneyGram, international money transfer.MoneyGram
November 6
10:45 PM 2014

Kenya's Safaricom (SCOM.NR) and U.S. company MoneyGram International (MGI.O) have agreed a deal for money to be sent from abroad to Kenya through their money transfer services, targeting more than $1 billion sent in remittances every year.

Safaricom's nearly 22 million users will be able to receive money directly to their mobile money M-Pesa accounts from MoneyGram outlets in 90 countries.

The deal is expected to drive growth in Safaricom's M-Pesa division and boost Kenya's remittances, a key source of hard currency for east Africa's biggest economy.

"This new relationship with MoneyGram enables us to tap into remittances coming in from Kenyans living in other countries," Safaricom Chief Executive Bob Collymore said in a statement on Wednesday.

M-Pesa accounts for around a fifth of Kenya's largest telecoms operator's revenue.

Latest data from the Central Bank of Kenya showed that the amount of remittances sent into Kenya by its citizens living abroad rose 20.34 percent in August from the same month last year to $128.8 million, with 49.7 percent of the remittances coming from North America.

Kenyans abroad sent a total $1.3 billion in remittances in the whole of 2013.

Njuguna Ndung'u, Central Bank of Kenya's governor, said the service would serve to also increase security and speed in receipt of remittances.

"It is actually very important in terms of creating the much needed avenue and safety of remittances, and even the efficiency through which the accessible channels in Kenya work," he said.

Safaricom has a similar agreement with Western Union (WU.N).

In neighboring Tanzania and Rwanda, Tigo - a unit of emerging markets telecom group Millicom Cellular International MICsdb.ST - launched on Monday a mobile money transfer service between the two countries in February.

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