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Vodafone India reports 0.3M active M-Pesa users in Q1-FY15

Vodafone India’s mobile payment service M-Pesa has 1.5 million registered users, of which around 300,000 are active users as of June 30, 2014, the company has disclosed in its Q1-FY15 results. This is the first time the telco has disclosed active users for M-Pesa, although the service had reported 1.2 million registered users in the previous quarter.

In comparison, M-Pesa’s competitor Airtel Money had reported to have an active base of 1.7 million for Q4-FY14, up from 1.3 million in the previous quarter. The total number of transactions was at 38 million, up 25.8% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) while the amount transacted was at Rs 1,364.2 crore for the quarter, up 10.2% growth QoQ. Vodafone however hasn’t disclosed any information on how m-pesa is performing in terms of transactions or amount transacted.

Vodafone which operates the service through its wholly owned subsidiary Mobile Commerce Solutions Ltd (MCSL), had completed the pan-India rollout of the service in March this year, about one year since its India launch and about 16 months after the initial announcement. 

The company says the service is now available through 66,000 sales agents, of which 65% are in rural areas. This is up from 60,000 sales agents reported in the previous quarter.

Cash Disbursement Pilots: In May this year, Vodafone had partnered (pdf) with ICICI Bank to launch mobile-based transfer of health care subsidies directly to the beneficiaries on a pilot basis in Ranchi’s Namkun block. This disbursement was made under the Janani Suraksha Yojna Scheme that is operated under National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). The company had earlier stated plans to launch a similar pilot in Bihar.

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It had also stated plans of enabling money disbursement through Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) through M-Pesa in April this year.

Payment Banks: Last week, the Reserve Bank of India had also released draft guidelines for allowing telcos and wallet companies to set up payment banks. Through this, companies could provide small savings accounts and payments / remittance services to migrant labour workforce, low income households, small businesses, other unorganised sector entities and other users. 

Following this, RBI had recommended that the existing and new PPI issuer applicants should instead be required to apply for a Payments Bank licence or become Business Correspondents (BCs). This means that, in all probability, most PPI licensees will look to apply for a Payment Banks license. A lowdown on draft payment guidelines here. (Also readIndia’s Payment Banks: What’s not in there – Anand Raman)

Other players: Besides Airtel Money, Tata DOCOMO has a license through its wholly owned subsidiary MMP Mobi Wallet Payment Systems and had partnered with ICICI Bank for mRupee money transfer and payment service. Last December, the telco had stated plans to extend the service to 26 Indian cities by the end of this fiscal (FY-14).

Idea Cellular had received a five-year prepaid mobile wallet license in December 2013 and has a partnership with Axis Bank for mobile money transfer services. Reliance Jio which has a pan-India unified license had also received a mobile wallet license for a prepaid payment instrument called ‘Jio Money’ in November 2013.

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