Vodafone’s M-Pesa, the mobile phone based money transfer and micro-fincancing service for unbanked and under-banked sections of the population in association with ICICI bank recently launched its service in Odisha.
With M-Pesa being launched in Odisha, the service will now be available across 202 ‘tehsils’, 24 districts through 1350 specially trained authorised agents including 73 Vodafone exclusive stores in the city.
Talking about the roll out, Abdhesh Kumar Singh, Business Head – Odisha Vodafone India informed that while less than 5 percent of villages in India have a banking outlet; initiatives like M-Pesa will bridge the gap and provide the ideal offering across the country in compliance with all applicable regulations.
The service which allows customers to transfer money to any mobile phone, remit money to any bank account, make utility payments, recharge of mobile, DTH payment and earn interest on deposits, has been working on a phased roll out in the country. At present the mobile commerce initiative has been active in 15 circles and in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, West Bengal, Punjab, UP East, UP West to name a few.
Going forward Vodafone plans to roll M-Pesa in South India in the coming two months – March and April.
While Vodafone had made it very clear in the beginning of the year that it would be rolling out its M-Pesa service pan India, other telcos have been extending a similar service too. Tata Docomo will be expanding its mRupee service to cover 26 Indian cities by the end of this fiscal (FY-14). Currently available across 1,700 retail outlets in 11 Indian cities, it was launched by Tata DOCOMO in partnership with ICICI Bank in 2012.
Idea Cellular currently has a partnership with Axis Bank to offer mobile money transfer services in four circles. However, Idea users can’t withdraw money once it is added, it enables just purchasing.
Airtel, the largest cellular service provider in the country which has Airtel Money to compete with others grew 10 times to Rs. 654 crore a quarter in Q2-FY14, from Rs. 69 crore in same quarter the previous year. At present the service is currently live in 27 states in India.
One can take a blind guess that with mobile phones proliferating rapidly in the country, the mobile payments business is going to heat up in the coming days.
Meanwhile the Reserve Bank of India is already working on a system that will allow you to send money via SMS, which can then be withdrawn from any ATM, even if the recipient does not have a bank account. The game changing idea was announced by RBI governor Raghuram Rajan at the recently concluded Nasscom India Leadership forum.
While the move is yet to be implemented and raises concerns like lack of encryption with SMS Payments, mobile payments can bring down the percentage of unbanked population in rural and urban areas.