Targetting a large migrant population in Kerala, telecom operator Vodafone India and ICICI Bank today launched the 'M-Pesa', a unique mobile money transfer and payment service, in the state. 'M-Pesa' empowers the unbanked and under banked sections of the population gain access to financial services via the mobile phone, Suresh Kumar, Vodafone India Operations Director- South, told reporters here. The service will now be available across 63 tehsils, 14 districts through 1,800 specially trained authorised agents, including 29 Vodafone exclusive stores in the state. Pointing out that there are barely 300 million bank accounts and only 35 per cent of the adult population had a bank account in the country, he said 'M-Pesa' would be especially useful to the migrant population in the state.
Penetration of debit and credit cards was limited, especially in rural areas. Customers can deposit and withdraw cash from designated outlets, transfer money to any mobile phone in India, remit money to any bank account in India, make payments to recharge mobile, clear utility bills and for DTH service subscription and participate in e-commerce and m commerce, Suresh Sethi, Business Head, M-Pesa, said. The service would be helpful to the unbanked and underserviced sections of society. There are less than five per cent of villages in India which have a banking outlet. Vodafone has also launched NREGA payout in Chattisgarh and and talks are on with the government in Kerala. NREGA and Microfinance are two areas where there is huge opportunity. In Kerala, Vodafone covers 1530 towns and villages. Migrant corridors in Kerala have been identified in Perumbavoor, Kizhakootam, Vatakara and Edavanna where labour from Bihar, north eastern states, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh flock for jobs, Murali, Business Head, Kerala, Vodafone India said. There are 45,000 outlets in Kerala, of which 2000 plus have been identified as potential M-Pesa outlets with 29 exclusive retails stores.