VODACOM Lesotho (VCL) has said it is working on ensuring its financial services, such as mobile money transfers, are accessible to 80 percent of the populace, including marginalised groups by 2017.
VCL Managing Director Ian Ferrao said the telecommunications giant was committed to ensuring everyone with access to a cell phone would be able to access their services.
Mr Ferrao was speaking during a press briefing held at Lancer’s Inn in Maseru yesterday in which VCL launched the payment system for digital satellite television service provider, DSTV, as well as Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO) through its mobile-phone based money transfer and micro-financing service M-Pesa.
He described M-Pesa, which allows users to deposit, withdraw, and transfer money easily with a mobile device, as a driver of economic development and financial inclusion in the country, which he said is currently around 40 to 60 percent.
“Such numbers can easily go up 89 percent or even 100 percent over the next few years through the use of mobile money,” said Mr Ferrao.
“With our current 1.35 million subscribers on the network, we will eventually reach a stage where every Mosotho will own a cellphone and have the ability to carry out financial transactions, including those people who are based in rural areas.”
He said VCL’s vision was to ultimately eliminate the use of physical money and credit cards, which are used for daily transactions, with mobile money which he described as cost effective and a simpler mode of transacting.
Mr Ferrao said 1 400 jobs had been created through M-Pesa in the form of agents who get commission each time they serve the 600 000 registered users of the mobile money transfer service. Since its launch in July 2013, he said over M12 million had been transacted through M-Pesa, the most successful mobile phone based financial service in the developing world.
VCL Executive Head of M-Pesa, Palesa Mphunyetsane, said they had put in place measures to combat criminal activities such as money laundering, adding that they also work closely with the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).
“VCL has an anti-money laundering department where we monitor suspicious transactions in accordance with the Money Laundering Act of 2002,” Ms Mphunyetsane said on the side-lines of the launch.
“We also have our own policies which beef up security around the M-Pesa service when a client registers. Our M-Pesa agents are also trained to ensure they are aware of any suspicious transactions through the workshops we carry out.”
She said although the maximum amount allowed daily is M1 000, M3000 per month and M12 000 per year, they monitor clients who frequently transfer large sums.
“One such example of a suspicious case was when someone frequently kept a daily amount to specific people within a month,” said Ms Mphunyetsane.
“At that point, we monitored the transactions and eventually reported our suspicions to the FIU.”