Vodafone India and ICICI Bank India have rolled out M-Pesa, bringing the mobile money transfer and payment service to the local market.
Initially announced in November with Vodafone India's subsidiary, Mobile Commerce Solutions Limited (MCSL) and ICICI Bank, the service allows users to transfer money to any mobile phone in India and also remit money to any bank account in India. Within India, the service is initially rolled out in Bihar, Kolkata, and West Bengal, with over 8,300 authorized agents and will soon be rolled out nationwide in phases.
Vodafone offers M-Pesa globally in different regions via partnerships with mobile carriers and leading banks.
The service is available only to Vodafone customers, who can sign up for the service by visiting an M-Pesa agent outlet to fill in a form and providing address verification and photo identification. A minimum deposit is required to open the M-Pesa account.
Upon registration, Vodafone India will activate the MCSL mobile wallet for the customer, so it can be used as a closed wallet for transactions such as cash deposits, money transfers to any bank account, and to another M-Pesa customer. The service can also be used to top up credit on mobile phones and make payments, along with making payments for DTH (direct-to-home) services and utility bills.
According to the ICICI Bank's M-Pesa Web site, customers are required to make an initial minimum deposit of 200 rupees (US$3.71), of which 100 rupees (US$1.85) is deducted as a one-time account activation fee and the remaining balance is credited to the account balance. The maximum daily limit for funds transfer is 5,000 rupees (US$92.6) a day and the maximum daily limit for prepaid mobile credit topup is 2,500 rupees (US$46.3).
M-Pesa mobile wallets can have a maximum account balance of 10,000 rupees (US$185.3), while Mobile Wallet and Mobile Money accounts can have a maximum account balance of 50,000 rupees (US$926.6).
M-Pesa is a great service to finally introduce and implement in India as many users in rural India don't have easy access to banks. They have to go to great lengths and distances for these services and to make these transactions. Furthermore, having the ability to top up your phone credit on-the-go, and for someone else, is also another great feature as not all vendors have top-up facilities for all mobile phone operators in India.