South Africa-based telecoms firm MTN Group has announced a commercial agreement to introduce international mobile remittance services in its 21 countries of operation. Under the terms of the agreement, the service will allow MTN subscribers to send and receive Western Union Money Transfer transactions using their MTN MobileMoney accounts. MTN’s MobileMoney service is currently available in Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda, with pilot schemes underway in several other markets. The existing service allows customers to send money domestically, buy airtime and pay utility bills using their MTN mobile phones. In contrast, Western Union offers the Mobile Money Transfer service through Smart Communications and Globe Telecom in the Philippines; Safaricom in Kenya and Maxis in Malaysia, with additional agreements pending with EnStream in Canada and the State Bank of India.
The new service will make its debut in Uganda, where MTN MobileMoney already boasts over one million registered users – reportedly one of the largest mobile banking deployments in the world to date. Once the new international remittance service is activated, MTN subscribers will be able to receive Western Union Money Transfer transactions to 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 around the world. Khalid Fellahi, Western Union’s Head of Mobile Transaction Services commented: ‘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. This alliance with MTN – one of the world’s most successful mobile operators – 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’.