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Mobile money transfer market fight hots up

August 16, 2010 • Mobile and Telecoms, Top Stories

After the launch of Mpesa, Zain Kenya (Bharti Airtel) introduced its money transfer service, Zap

LESS than three days after Safaricom announced tremendous growth in its Mpesa mobile phone-based money transfer service, Essar Telecom has announced that it has more than 350 000 customers on its Yu Cash mobile money transfer services.

Latest statistics from Safaricom – a leading provider of converged communication solutions – indicate that it has so far registered 11,8 million customers and transferred more than Sh523,8 billion.

Speaking in Nairobi, Kenya, Essar Telecom Country Manager Atul Chaturvedi said that in less than a year, more than 350 000 customers had already subscribed to the money transfer service in more than 900 towns countrywide.

He said despite reservations about the profitability of the service due to other operators who were already established in the market offering similar services, the response had been encouraging.

Chaturvedi said the company, with close to 1,7 million subscribers, expects to have more than half of its subscribers signed on to the money transfer service.

“With the ongoing SIM registration we expect this number to be higher by the time the exercise is over,” Chaturvedi said.

He said currently Yu, a mobile network operator, has 5 000 agents across the country and is currently on a recruitment exercise for more agents to boost its presence.

Mobile commerce has become a new fighting ground for Kenyan mobile operators as they seek to lure more subscribers to their networks.

Mobile money transfer was introduced in Kenya by Safaricom when it introduces its M-PESA services in 2007.

After the launch of Mpesa, Zain Kenya (Bharti Airtel) introduced its money transfer service, Zap, and has earmarked Sh 350 million to fight the dominance of Safaricom in the money transfer business.

Bharti intends to increase its Zap agents from the current 1 700 to 10 000 by the end of the year to give it greater visibility among customers.

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