Kenya-based mobile operator Safaricom entered discussions with five companies to increase the availability of M-Pesa services, according to a local press report.

In an interview with Kenyan newspaper The Standard, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore outlined the provider’s plan to increase the scope of the company’s successful mobile money platform by partnering with five new companies.

He declined to name the service providers in question, but stated the deals were likely to be closed within the next 12 months. Collymore (pictured at one of the company’s sales outlets) said Safaricom wanted to “deepen financial inclusion” in the country and would sign mutually beneficial agreements to increase the reach of M-Pesa.

Infrastructure sharing and partner schemes are common in this sector to lower costs and increase the accessibility and usability of services for customers. These projects commonly include retail and sales sites in addition to network infrastructure and interoperability technology to enable payments between providers.

Safaricom launched its mobile money transfer service globally through M-Pesa in 2007 and has now expanded the service to provide financial services to over 23 million customers through 100,000 retail outlets in Kenya.

The early launch and success of M-Pesa helped to position Kenya as one of the most advanced markets for mobile money services and saw the country targeted by Visa for the launch of its mVisa mobile payment service earlier in September.