U.K. telecommunications giant Vodafone is set to expand the reach of mobile money program M-Pesa by connecting it to HomeSend, an international remittance hub.

M-Pesa, launched by Vodafone in 2007, gives consumers in developing countries with no access to basic financial services a secure platform to send and receive money via mobile phones using SMS messages. It is currently available to consumers in seven developing countries including India, Kenya and Tanzania.

Beginning next month, M-Pesa will be connected to more than 21 international money transfer businesses in 35 countries through HomeSend, a money transfer platform. By opening up the M-Pesa service through HomeSend's hub, Vodafone is increasing the reach and utility of the service, the company said. Users will now be able to receive funds from a number of service providers as well as send funds to friends and relatives in their own countries.

"Mobile changes lives. It also transforms societies and economies: A 10 percent increase in mobile penetration in a country equates to a 1.2 percent increase in GDP growth," said Vodafone Director of Mobile Money Michael Joseph, in a statement.

"We are now at the next stage of that growth," Joseph said. "By breaking down national barriers to make mobile money transfer truly global and ubiquitous across all competing networks, just like text messaging today, we can further connect the world's huge unbanked population."

Vodafone said the M-Pesa service already has a strong track record in providing simple and secure m-commerce services. M-Pesa is used regularly by more than 15 million customers, generating more than 165 million transactions per month, Vodafone said.

Thanks to M-Pesa and its success, nearly 140 mobile transfer systems in 65 countries, many in emerging markets, exist today.

"For millions of people in emerging markets, a mobile phone is a bank account, the front door to a micro-business, a gateway to higher market prices for a farmer's crops or a lifeline for an isolated woman in a distant village," Joseph said.

For more stories like this, visit the money transfer/P2P research center.

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