Monday, December 08, 2008

Safaricom brings Mpesa to the UK: but thru Western Union

After almost 18 months, Safcom has presumably given up going its own and will now deliver the service via the rather expensive Western Union service. We can currently send money via Western Union to its various partners and agents in Kenya. Now we'll be able to send cash to our relas’ mophos direct.

For experimental purposes, once the service comes to London (I've no idea why they chose some elementary place like Reading), I'll send some chumus to somebody huko mashinani to see how well it works.

I believe, the direct route was opposed by banks who know they can't compete. Most charge no less than £18 per transaction (Western Union even more e.g. £21 for £200!) forcing many of us to find ingenious ways of getting remittances home. My favourite is opening an account I don't need for a rela home and giving them the card. Exchange rate is lousy but otherwise its free!

Presumably Safcom will get a cut of the fees, with majority being shared between WU and Vodafone.

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