Vodafone's SMS banking service is launching in Romania, where more than one third of the population do not have access to conventional banking.
M-Pesa, which enables users to top up their phone, pay utility bills, make deposits and withdraw cash, will go live for around 6m Vodafone Romania customers today, with a full rollout expected by the end of the year. Users can transfer anything from one new Romanian leu (0.22 euro cents) up to 30,000 lei (€6,715) per day.
Created for the world's unbanked and first launched in Africa, the service now has nearly 17m users across Kenya, Tanzania, Afghanistan, South Africa and India, with Egypt, India, Lesotho and Mozambique launched in the past year. Its users transfer €900m every month.
The development of M-Pesa has opened up new ways for people in these countries to access services they need. In Tanzania, an NGO has started transferring money on mobile in order for recipients to pay for travel to get vital medical care. In Kenya, people can pay for access to water services using M-Pesa, as well as accessing Vodafone's saving scheme.