back to article Vodafone brings African tech to Europe

Vodafone is to launch mobile-money-for-the-masses service M-Pesa in Romania, which introduces and interesting challenge for the European telcos and banks who have spent a decade wrangling over mobile money and got nowhere. M-Pesa was launched in Kenya under the stewardship of Nick Hughes of Vodafone, initially as a corporate …

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Anonymous Coward

I was surprised how widely its used in Kenya. My mrs bought some tat from a beach hawker and paid for it using m-peso. Quick and easy. But don't know if it will work in western europe which already has an establish banking system.

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Anonymous Coward

It will work because there is an established banking system for the "ones that have".

The ones that have not pay 12.50 at the post office for a 50£ money transfer. That is the real price for branch to branch - I was dropping off a return and I nearly choked when I heard the clerk asking one of the "council ghetto" dwellers this "commission". The girl paid cash and left. Not like she had a choice. It is quite funny listening to the politicos and church leaders going on about payday lenders and loan sharks. Those just the top of the iceberg - there is much bigger pile of "respectable" bloodsucking parasites who specialize in leeching from the destitute. Social responsibility? Providing social service to the community? Yeah right, more like charging all the traffic can bear and grinning all the way to the FTSE100.

In addition to these, in the specific case of Romania, there are several millions Romanians abroad, each of which has a SIM they hardly ever use. They now end up using it and clocking the no longer lucrative but still substantial roaming fees.

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" there is much bigger pile of "respectable" bloodsucking parasites who specialize in leeching from the destitute. Social responsibility? Providing social service to the community?"

F*ck the "community". No one in the UK needs to use a payday lender - the social pays for housing costs and other basic needs - unless they've decided they really need a 50 inch TV even though they can't afford it. Funny how the scum class always claim poverty yet they always have enough money for all the latest AV equipment, drink, ciggies, gambling and invariably 3 or more kids. As yourself why betting shops and booze outlets always congregate in downmarket areas. IMO separating these sorts of fools from their money is a public service - it can go to people who can spend it on something worthwhile.

Yeah , I'll get downvoted by all the witless bleeding hearts liberals on here who'll pay right-on lip service to social justice but switch on the central locking in their Range Rovers when they quickly drive through any area that doesn't have an organic health food shop.

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Anonymous Coward

Too true. My old boss wanted to buy some solar panels from China. His bank HSBC wanted to charge him £45 for the money order. Fortunately for him, he had an account with Coutts who don't charge for the same service. To have a Coutts account you need £1,000,000 in investable assets, not including real estate.

The solar panels were fun.

Maybe when the dust surrounding crypto-currencies has settled ('Get Rich! Buy Drugs!'), perhaps the mainstream conversation will turn to cutting out some financial middlemen.

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Anonymous Coward

>Funny how the scum class always claim poverty yet they always have enough money for all the latest AV equipment, drink, ciggies, gambling

You don't seem to like them. Putting arguments about the availability of unskilled and semi-skilled work to one side, remember that most of the financial cost to to consumer of cigarettes and alcohol is tax, so it goes back to the Treasury from whence the Benefits came from. To continue playing the Devil's advocate, just think how much money the tax payer is saves, not paying the pensions of people who have smoked and drunk themselves into an early cremation.

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"You don't seem to like them"

I don't. I have no time for the sort of losers who won't get off their backsides and get a job. Almost a million Polish alone managed to come to the UK and get employment yet we still have the same number of bone idle witless scum on welfare whinging about they can't make ends meet. F*ck them.

"just think how much money the tax payer is saves, not paying the pensions of people who have smoked and drunk themselves into an early cremation."

True, and if people want to drink and/or smoke thats up to them. But I'm not interested in listening to their hard up stories because they blew all their money on non essentials.

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Anonymous Coward

......

I sincerely hope that one day you get to join the ranks of the unemployed and see how much fun it is.

It's shocking how ignorant you are of people's every day lives. I can only imagine that your sole source of information is the Daily Mail.

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Re: ......

"I sincerely hope that one day you get to join the ranks of the unemployed and see how much fun it is."

I've been unemployed jackass - twice due to redundancy. Guess what - I kept looking for work until I found it.

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Coat

No need

"... but switch on the central locking in their Range Rovers"

No need to lock the doors, Range Rovers do it automatically as soon as you drive away (I gather that it's to stop the unwashed from snatching one's Rolex at traffic lights).

BTW I have neither a RR or a Rolex

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It is quite funny listening to the politicos and church leaders going on about payday lenders and loan sharks. Those just the top of the iceberg - there is much bigger pile of "respectable" bloodsucking parasites who specialize in leeching from the destitute.
Indeed. I have a long-standing phobia about utility bills, so my electricity is paid for in advance through a key meter. The money is in my supplier's bank account, earning interest for them, before the juice comes down the wires to me. And yet they would give me a discount for paying in arrears by direct debit.

That is exactly backwards. In fact, now I come to think of it, it's borderline disability discrimination.

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Anonymous Coward

My old boss wanted to buy some solar panels from China. His bank HSBC wanted to charge him £45 for the money order.

HSBC wanted to charge me £40 to transfer £50k from my "instant access" "savings account" (AER: 0.02%) to my solicitors. I told them that in that case, please close out the account to cash and I'll walk across the road.

It was a good job that they then backed down, apparently that would mark me as a money launderer - I thought I needed an account with HSBC Mexico for that to happen.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ......

"I sincerely hope that one day you get to join the ranks of the unemployed and see how much fun it is."

I've been unemployed jackass - twice due to redundancy. Guess what - I kept looking for work until I found it.

I don't like how this dude is saying it, but I 100% agree with him. There are too many people in this country who think that they have the right to live where ever they want and be subsidised by the state for doing so. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants to this country move to wherever there is work available, doing field work in East Anglia, labourers in London etc. Romanians that can't speak a lick of English arrive here and are working on a building site in weeks.

It staggers me that we have employment "not spots", where there used to be good employment but there now is not, full of people who think the jobs should come to them and not the other way around. No jobs for you in the North West? MOVE.

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@A J Stiles Indeed. I have a long-standing phobia about utility bills, so my electricity is paid for in advance through a key meter. The money is in my supplier's bank account, earning interest for them, before the juice comes down the wires to me. And yet they would give me a discount for paying in arrears by direct debit.

That is exactly backwards. In fact, now I come to think of it, it's borderline disability discrimination.

Not to be corporate shill, but try looking for a company called Ebico. They are an energy company with just one tariff. One. That means it doesn't matter how you pay, your always on the cheapest tariff, and you don't get bumped on a more expensive one because you didn't switch this year. They were 3rd cheapest on a comparison website when I switched about 4 years ago, and I'm still paying a competitive price.

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Facepalm

Re: ......

No jobs for you in the North West? MOVE.
Yes, because anybody can just move house anytime, at a moment's notice and at no cost to themself.

What's the view like from up there?

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Mushroom

Re: ......

What about a long term illness? Ever suffered that? What about the death of your spouse while you have a child aged 1 and another aged 3?

You, sir (cunt) give right wingers a bad name.

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Mushroom

Re: ......

Indeed, a single unemployed gentleman may be expected to move, but the recently widowed lady with two pre-schoolers, one with a severe disability, may well find it a little harder.

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So, how long before we hear howls of how this is taking over from bitcoin for paying for naughty stuff?

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Not sure I can see this working well

1. SMS delivery is not guaranteed. I've occasionally received text messages days late.

2. While I can see that security on very basic phones might be OK I wouldn't trust my Smartphone with real money.

3. SMS isn't very secure so intercepts are quite easy.

4. How do I quickly find out if the message I've received is a genuine payment or not? Not a problem for sending cash to family but for paying for stuff it's important.

5. You'd need to be pretty careful not to mistype a number when sending money as I doubt you could get your cash back.

Perhaps I've misread the article and the text is just a confirmation of what's happened. In that case my only concern remains my smartphone which I'm convinced is insecure.

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Re: Not sure I can see this working well

Must be like Ethernet then - works much better in practice than it does in theory.

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Big Brother

How long...

... before we have the politicians (supported by the bankers) screaming about how this is helping to fund Islamic Paedo Terrerists and saying you can't use it for more than a tiny amount without registering your name, address, fingerprints, blood group and DNA...?

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Re: How long...

You can't use it for ANY amount without registering your full identity in advance right now. That's how it works. To have an account (which you need to send any money at all) you have to register your ID first.

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Anonymous Coward

Europe might not be easy pickings

Do remember that the "wranglings" of European banks and telco can be easily explained by wide differences in the market structures between Africa and Europe.

M-pesa and similar products work like wildfire in countries where the retail banking infrastructure is very poor. When it takes a 5 hour journey to get to the next ATM (which might be out of order) or a 2 hour journey to get to the nearest branch, you can understand why a system - enabling almost instantaneous small transfer and payments redeemable at almost any corner store - would be very successful.

In europe where the retail banking/payment infrastructure is much more developed there is less of a business case for systems like m-pesa ...which would in any case compete with the services already available. Why would banks want to share the cake with mobile operators where they have strived and invested heavily to make card payment quasi universal, and introduced online/mobile options for fast transfers......

Only maybe in the few areas of europe like Romania where the unbanked population is high and banking infrastructure still way behind....

But I don't see m-pesa or any similar product making it big in France, the Uk or germany....

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Nice

But Bitcoin can do it cheaper.

Tiny btc transactions cost approximately 0.00001 btc / ~0.005USD

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Re: Nice

The cents in the article refers to Kenyan cents. 50 cents is about 0.006USD, so much the same as bitcoin.

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A lot of misconceptions here..

1. The SMS doesn't carry the value, it's just the acknowledgement from M-Pesa that the payment's been received. The subscriber ID (the phone number as far as the sender is concerned) is what the funds are held against.

2. Funds are actually pooled and held in normal, regulated commercial banks, through a trust independent of the mobile operator, so your money's not at risk if the operator goes bust.

3. There's still a "know your customer" requirement, so you need proper ID to register for the service.

4. M-Pesa doesn't just replicate established conventional banking services - it allows instant low-value person-to-person payments, a model some of the banks here have been unsuccessfully trying to get off the ground for a while.

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Re: A lot of misconceptions here..

Thanks, that answers some of my questions/points from above.

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Meh

FTFA - "Mobile money schemes are often regarded with suspicion by the traditional banks and regulators, which impose strict limits on how much money can be transferred."

That is because it avoids the banks raking in their commission.

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Damn

I cannot tell, if this an April fools day joke or not!

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Happy

Interesting to see if banks respond

The official release does not clearly mention if you can transfer money over borders, but personally I don't see any issue, at least within the EU. That will probably appeal to the millions of people working abroad in the EU.

Also, I hope these kind of services will make traditional banks reconsider their current trend of increasing charges and fees for basic services such as maintaining a current account or withdrawing cash from ATM.

Heck, if they expand to Russia, you would be able to pay by M-Pesa for those SIM exploits sold by those nice Russian gentlemen working as "independent security researchers".

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Re: Interesting to see if banks respond

Not sure how this will help the majority working abroad in the EU (specifically those from Eurzone countries).

If I'm from, say Spain and I'm working in Germany I've got access to cash machines without commission and I can transfer cash between Eurozone countries without charge. I've also probably got free Internet banking.

I think this would only appeal to those without bank accounts who are working abroad.

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Re: Interesting to see if banks respond

I have several bank accounts and cards and I'd say I'm fairly well versed in online payments but still haven't got the faintest idea how I could transfer a modest amount of money without having to pay comparable charges for it to the highway rob ...erm, conventional money transfer outlets around here. Which doesn't necessarily mean there isn't already some cheap way I don't know about, but it does show the potential impact that a really high-profile, low commission, easy to use payment service could have.

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Sounds convenient. The biggest problem I found for paying for stuff in Bolivia was the national shortage of small denomination notes and coins. Shops, taxis and stalls were all loathe to 'break a note'.

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