For those with relatives in either UK, United Arab Emirates (UAE) or Germany who would want to send them funds, here’s some timely and vital info: your friends and relatives can now send you funds directly into your M-Pesa account.
This is all thanks to M-Hela – a mobile remittance service developed by Rapid Communications targeting Africans in the Diaspora wishing to send money to their kin via their mobile wallets – which saves the recipients of the cash from the inconvenience of queuing at bank halls after the transfer has been done using Western Union; Money Gram; Xpress Money or Instant Cash amongst others.
Christine Oguna, Rapid Communications’ head of m-commerce, and the person directly in-charge of M-Hela, says that the service was launched in Kenya over 2 months ago and is first gaining popularity among users as seen by the transaction volumes and number of customers.
“The transfers mainly range from Kshs 10,000 to Kshs 20,000 with the bulk of the transfers coming from UAE and Germany. The benefits to the receiver are that the funds come directly to your mobile wallet – in this case M-Pesa – and the transaction is almost instant as it only takes 10 minutes between the time when the funds are sent to the time they are received in the recipient’s M-Pesa account,” said Ms Oguna.
She added that due to the features of the product; growth of mobile money as well as the region’s population in the diaspora, Rapid Communications is working on plans to launch M-Hela in Uganda and Tanzania before the end of 2013 by working with Airtel Money.
The launch of M-Hela comes at a time when the volume of cash remittances from the diaspora is recording growth month-on-month, with CBK figures indicating that remittance inflows for March 2013 were US $ 1.021 million (or 1.0 per cent) higher than that recorded in February 2013 which stood at US $ 102.4 million. The CBK stats shows that overall remittances from abroad stood at Kshs 8.76 billion (US $102.97 million) for the month of February.
North America accounted for 48 per cent of the funds with remittances from Europe staning at Ksh 2.48 billion or 28 per cent. Other parts of the globe contributed Ksh 2.1 billion or 24 per cent.
M-Hela works with Aftab Currency Exchange in UK and Europe. The sender needs to make a deposit with any Aftab agent by filling a general form with the required details such as name and phone number of the recipients and send money immediately.
Thereafter, the recipient receives the money on their M-Pesa accounts and can withdraw anytime and anywhere. In the UAE, M-Hela works with Ersal’s 30 agents.