LEADING banks are scrambling to take advantage of the burgeoning mobile payment market.
Nedbank and Vodacom yesterday teamed up to launch the M-PESA money transfer system, which is already popular in several other African countries as well as Afghanistan.
Vodacom managing director Shameel Joosub said M-PESA would be aimed at the "unbanked".
"M-PESA has a successful track record in other markets. With the backing of Nedbank and Vodafone, as well as the power of the public's trust in the Vodacom brand, all the signs are there that M-PESA is going to revolutionise the way South Africans transfer, share and spend their money," he said.
The M stands for mobile and pesa means money in Swahili.
M-PESA customers can deposit and withdraw money from a network of agents that include airtime re-sellers and retail outlets acting as banking agents.
The service enables its users to deposit and withdraw money, transfer money to other users and non-users, pay bills and purchase airtime.
M-PESA is only available to Vodacom subscribers. Nedbank is providing the money transfer service. You will not need a bank account to use the service.
Nedbank retail managing executive Saks Ntombela said: "We are particularly excited about this offering being attractive to the previously unbanked population who are not yet part of the formal banking system."
Nedbank follows on the heels of Absa and FNB, which have both launched similar products.
The technology behind M-PESA is developed by Microsoft and was promoted as a key philanthropic initiative from Vodafone by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation at the Davos World Economic Forum last year.
Last week FNB said it would be offering the PayPal solution, which has already been established in 190 markets around the world with 81million active accounts.
PayPal enables people to send and receive payments internationally from their accounts without having to share personal or financial information.