M-PESA has become the first mobile money provider in Africa to join the Financial Taskforce established by United for Wildlife, a coalition of charities that works to tackle the illegal wildlife trade.

United for Wildlife was created in 2012 by The Royal Foundation, led by Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge. It brings together conservation organisations, governments and global corporations to protect endangered species like elephants, rhinos, tigers and pangolins so they can share our world with future generations.

The United for Wildlife’s Financial Taskforce was established in 2018 via a Declaration signed at Mansion House in London. The Declaration commits signatories to use financial intelligence and resources to support law enforcement efforts to pursue the illegal wildlife trade’s greatest beneficiaries. There are now 42 signatories to the Declaration including Standard Bank, Barclays, Banco Santander Group, the City of London, Deutsche Bank, HSBC Bank, and JP Morgan Chase. The United for Wildlife Taskforce Information Sharing System underpins much of the action by the taskforce.

Organised crime has become one of the greatest threats to animals in Africa and other continents. The illegal wildlife trade is valued between US$50-US$150 billion per year and is one of the five most lucrative global crimes. There is consensus that the global financial system is a crucial medium for the transfer of illicit proceeds.

The M-PESA mobile money system has become Africa’s most popular financial services provider and the continent’s leading financial technology platform. M-PESA is actively used by 41.5 million customers across seven African countries who make over 12.2 billion transactions per annum. The platform also enables individuals and businesses to pay bills, create savings and loan accounts and to access overdraft facilities, commercial services and healthcare.

Sitoyo Lopokoyit, CEO of M-PESA Africa, had this to say, “The environment remains a critical, shared communal resource and has been under threat from the illegal trade of wildlife. The future of our economy, families and children therefore depends on protecting our wildlife and our natural ecosystems. M-PESA will play a critical role in the mission to stop the illegal wildlife trade by ensuring that there are no illegal funds going through our platform to support or to help this illegal activity.”