Vodacom Group and Safaricom completed the acquisition of m-Pesa IP from Vodafone Group, a move hailed as a significant step towards the planned expansion of the mobile money service into new African markets.

In a statement the three announced the completion of the deal, first announced in 2019. The purchase was made by a specifically created joint venture between Vodacom and Safaricom. Vodafone noted the financial implication was broadly neutral for the group.

As part of the agreement, support and development facilities for the m-Pesa platform and brand will be moved to Kenya.

The m-Pesa brand operates in Kenya, Tanzania, Lesotho, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Mozambique and Egypt. It processes more than a billion transactions every month, with a total of 40 million users.

Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub said: “This is a significant milestone for Vodacom as it will accelerate our financial services aspirations in Africa. Our joint venture will allow Vodacom and Safaricom to drive the next generation of the m-Pesa platform.”

Nick Read, CEO of Vodafone, added: “With the rapid increase in smartphone penetration, the evolution into financial services and the potential for geographical expansion, we believe the next step in m-Pesa’s African growth will be more effectively overseen by Vodacom and Safaricom.”

The companies are tightly tied together: Vodafone owns a 60.5 per cent stake in Vodacom, which in turn owns a 35 per cent stake in Safaricom. Vodafone holds a 5 per cent stake in Safaricom, giving Vodacom control of the unit, in which a 35 per cent is retained by the Kenyan government.