Vodafone ties up with ICICI Bank to offer M-Pesa [Soon to go international]

Telecom operator Vodafone has launched mobile payments in partnership ICICI bank to offer mobile money transfer and payments. The mobile wallet service, called m-Pesa (money in Swahili), comes with an account at ICICI Bank, as mandated by the Reserve Bank of India.

The service will be launched in West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand and will be rolled out in other parts of the country later, the company said. The operator and the bank, had signed a deal to deploy M-Pesa in India in January last year. In November last year, Vodafone had partnered with HDFC Bank to launch M-Paisa in India.

M-pesa, a service launched by Vodafone in 2007 in Kenya is credited for much of the country’s mobile banking revolution. According to news reports, the company is expected to announce cross border operability for the service soon.

M-Pesa will be connected to an international remittance hub called HomeSend – operated by Bics, a money transfer company – which covers more than 21 money transfer businesses in 35 countries, reports Financial Times.

Mobile banking has been on the rise in India with banks like SBI and ICICI Bank leading the charge.

An alternative method, called the Interbank Mobile Payment Service has also been catching up in the country. Until recently, the payment method could be used to transfer money between two individuals but now, the payment method supported by more than 50 banks has been extended to merchants as well.

Rival telecom player Aritel also offers a mobile payment system in partnership with Axis Bank. The State Bank of India has something called SBI Mobi Cash. Phone maker Nokia had launched m-commerce platform Nokia Money in 2010 but had to shut down the service soon.