Barclays Kenya signs up to Safaricom's M-Pesa

* Safaricom’s M-Pesa available to Barclays clients-

* Barclays eighth bank to partner with Safaricom

NAIROBI, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Barclays Bank of Kenya BBK.NR has entered a partnership with telecoms firm Safaricom SCOM.NR offering its mobile phone-based money transfer service M-Pesa to the bank's clients, both firms said on Wednesday.

M-Pesa is the main way of transferring small cash amounts in Kenya, mainly because it does not require users to have a bank account. Millions of people in east Africa’s largest economy do not have access to banking services and the deal is seen as a way of addressing this.

“This partnership is in tandem with our strategy of stretching M-Pesa’s footprint beyond the regular agent outlet,” said Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph.

“It will also improve efficiency in the M-Pesa service as agents will have more points from which to access the all-important e-money, or float, critical to their day-to-day operations,” he said in a statement.

M-Pesa account holders can buy electronic funds at an agent and send it to any mobile phone user in the country, who can then redeem it for conventional cash at an M-Pesa agent.

The service will be offered exclusively to individual Barclays account holders for deposits and withdrawals, and to M-Pesa agents who bank with Barclays.

Adan Mohamed, regional managing director for Barclays East and West Africa, said the move was in line with the bank’s strategy of widening access to financial services and meeting the needs of customers at the lowest income levels.

Set up in March 2007, M-Pesa had more than 12.6 million customers and 20,000 agents countrywide as at Aug 30 this year, Safaricom said in a statement.

The total value of funds transferred on the service swelled to 33.32 billion shillings in July from 28.59 billion in March.

Last year the company, 40 percent owned by Britain's Vodafone VOD.L, launched the service in Britain, allowing users to send money from both countries.

Barclays is the eighth bank to partner with the M-Pesa service as an agent or super agent, the statement said.


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