Safaricom, Kenya's largest mobile services provider by market share, is involved in advanced talks with Ethiopia's government with a view to introducing the M-Pesa mobile money transfer service in the neighboring east Afrikan country. Although not yet confirmed by either party, several rumors and reports are circulating that talks are at an advanced stage of bringing M-Pesa to the 100 million people strong east Afrikan country.
The timing of the rumors is of interest as Ethiopia's new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, has embarked on notably bold political and economic reforms.
M-Pesa can possibly improve Ethiopia's economy
The great appeal of M-Pesa, and likely what has attracted Ethiopia's government to explore introducing it in the country, is that it allows its users to bypass the traditional banking system and perform mobile money transactions and transfers even through the most basic of mobile phones.
If successful, Vodafone Group, with head office in the United Kingdom, will license the use of M-Pesa to an Ethiopia-based bank while Safaricom will host the servers in Nairobi, Kenya. This is because Vodafone is the owner of the M-Pesa technology and patents.
M-Pesa has approximately 20 million active users in Kenya and until recently being toppled by Equitel's mobile money offering, was the leading person to person mobile money service in Kenya.