The telecom-driven mobile money provider M-Pesa has expanded to Europe, with cash-heavy Romania as its first market.
M-Pesa, which started in Africa and has expanded to other emerging markets, enables payments via SMS text messages. In Romania, the mobile money service will work on any device connected to Vodafone's network. Romanian consumers will be able to transfer between about $0.30 and $9,260 per day. Vodafone offers M-Pesa through Safaricom.
The service can be activated at one of about 300 Vodafone Romania stores, as well as a network of retailers and agents, reaching an addressable market of about six million. It will be expanded to other parts of the country by the end of 2014.
M-Pesa will also enable Vodafone Romania's consumers to top up pre-pay airtime on a mobile device, pay utility bills, make a deposit and withdraw cash. Users will also be able to purchase goods and services.
"The majority of people in Romania have at least one mobile device, but more than one third of the population do not have access to conventional banking," says Michael Joseph, director of mobile money at Vodafone, in a March 31 press release.
Other companies targeting Romania's unbanked population include Payzone and MoneyGram, which launched a partnership in that country in 2013.
MoneyGram has also partnered with Vodafone to extend M-Pesa's global reach.