Mobile money crosses borders with MTN

15 November 2010

Pan-African mobile operator MTN has teamed up with global payment services company Western Union to introduce international mobile remittance services in the 21 countries where MTN operates.

Once introduced, the service will allow MTN subscribers to conveniently send and receive Western Union Money Transfer transactions using their MTN MobileMoney accounts.

The service will first be introduced in Uganda, where MTN’s MobileMoney service already boasts over one-million registered users, making it one of the most successful “mobile wallet” deployments in the world.

According to the World Bank, Uganda receives nearly US$500-million in remittances every year, making up 3% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

“After bringing domestic financial services to many of our customers, we will now enable customers to receive money from abroad on their mobile phones to take out at their convenience with their local merchant, send it to family or pay a bill,” MTN MobileMoney executive Pieter Verkade said in a statement last week.

International remittance service

When the new international remittance service is activated, MTN subscribers registered for MobileMoney will be able to receive Western Union Money Transfer transactions in their mobile accounts.

In addition, MobileMoney users in certain countries will be able to send Western Union Money Transfer transactions directly from their mobile phones for payout at one of Western Union’s 386 000 Agent locations in 200 countries and territories around the world.

An MTN subscriber who receives a Western Union Money Transfer transaction to their MobileMoney account will be able to use the funds to pay bills, top up airtime, send money domestically and internationally, or withdraw cash at MobileMoney agents or any participating ATM.

“The Western Union Mobile Money Transfer service is a key part of our multi-channel strategy to offer our consumers numerous ways to send and receive money,” said Western Union mobile transaction services head Khalid Fellahi.

“This alliance with MTN … will introduce cross-border remittances to an entirely new segment of customers by allowing them to send and receive money using just their mobile phones.”

Convenient, secure and affordable

MTN’s MobileMoney service is currently available in Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda, with pilots under way in several other markets.

The service offers consumers a convenient, secure and affordable way to send money within the same country, buy airtime and make basic utility payments using their MTN mobile phones.

MTN offers the service in partnership with local banks. Western Union offers the Mobile Money Transfer service in the Philippines with Smart Communications and Globe Telecom; in Kenya with Safaricom; and in Malaysia with Maxis.

The company also recently announced an agreement with EnStream in Canada and State Bank of India in India, and has other agreements for Mobile Money Transfer with banks in Tunisia, Libya and South Africa.

SAinfo reporter

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