FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians walk past a mobile phone care centre operated by Kenya's telecom operator Safaricom in the central business district of Nairobi

NAIROBI – Kenya’s biggest telecoms operator Safaricom unveiled on Tuesday a new service on its M-Pesa mobile financial services platform that will allow users to send money around the world in a partnership with Western Union.

Started 11 years ago as a basic service to transfer money via mobile phone to cater for Kenyans without access to the formal banking network, M-Pesa has evolved into a fully-fledged financial service, offering loans and savings in conjunction with local banks, as well as merchant payments services.

It has also powered Safaricom’s earnings growth in recent years, with revenue from the service growing at 18 percent in the half year to the end of September to 35.52 billion shillings, nearly a third of the total.

The new service will allow M-Pesa’s 21 million active users to send and receive money across the world using their mobile phones which will be connected to Western Union’s half a million agents.

“M-PESA Global seeks to connect Kenyans to opportunities by making it easy and seamless for them to transact with the world and for the world to transact with Kenyans,” said Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, Chief Financial Services Officer at Safaricom.

Western Union Global Money Transfer President Odilon Almeida said the integration of the two platforms would allow users to send and receive money to and from more than 200 countries and territories.