M-Pesa agrees Western Union deal

African money service, co-founded by LBS alumnus, is extending its international presence 

Mobile money transfers

M-Pesa is expanding its global network in a deal that will allow users of Kenya’s biggest mobile money service to send and receive money in more than 200 countries.

The company, co-founded by London Business School alumnus Nick Hughes, has agreed a partnership with Western Union that lets M-Pesa’s 20 million+ subscribers in Kenya transfer money internationally through their phones. It also gives users access to Western Union's 500,000 global agents.   

As part of the deal, users will be able to make money transfers to countries including Germany, the UAE and UK. Safaricom, M-Pesa’s parent company, confirmed that the service is being rolled out to other nations in the coming weeks. 

Hughes helped launch M-Pesa in 2007 while working as head of mobile payment solutions at Vodafone, which at the time held a 40% stake in mobile operator Safaricom. 

Since then, M-Pesa has attracted around 30 million users in 10 countries such as Kenya, India, Mozambique, Tanzania, Albania and Romania. Its services include international transfers, loans and health provision. 

After setting up M-Pesa, Hughes co-founded M-Kopa in 2011. The Kenya-based solar company provides clean energy on a pay-as-you-go basis to consumers. Users pay a US$35 (£27) deposit and then 50 cents (39p) per day via a mobile money service.