Deal starts with Uganda, and
will be rolled out to 20 more countries. Western Union and MTN Group,
Africa's largest mobile phone company, Wednesday unveiled an
international mobile money transfer service in Uganda that will be
rolled out to all of telecom provider's 16 operations on the
continent as well as five in other regions.
In October 2010, the two companies announced
they had signed an agreement to offer international mobile remittance
services in the 21 countries in which MTN operates. The five
countries which this agreement covers but are not on the African
content include Afghanistan, Cyprus, Syria, Iran and Yemen.
The service, announced at a press conference in
Kampala, marks the debut of an offering from Western Union that
allows the more than 2 million customers of MTN's mobile money
transfer service in Uganda to add funds to their accounts that were
sent through Western Union's system.
"We are indeed excited about this new
collaboration with Western Union as it extends the reach of our
innovative solutions beyond Uganda's borders", Charles Mbire,
the MTN Uganda chairman of the board of directors said. "MTN
Mobile Money has been successful in increasing financial inclusion in
Uganda. MTN will continue to offer Ugandans life enriching services".
A press statement said that senders can
transfer funds as they normally would -- either in person at 450,000
Western Union Agent locations in 200 countries and territories, from
the Western Union website in 22 countries or directly from a bank
account in selected countries.
The receiver of the funds simply chooses to
"pull" the transaction into a MTN Mobile Money account. The
new service also enables MTN customers to send money internationally
with Western Union directly from their Mobile Money accounts for cash
payout at Western Union Agent locations worldwide or to subscribers
of mobile phone companies with which Western Union has agreements.
Isaac Nsereko, the MTN Uganda Marketing Officer
performed a demonstration at the announcement, where he received a
remittance of US$ 5 from someone in Colorado.
Western Union has similar agreements with
Safaricom's M-Pesa in Kenya, Vodacom in Tanzania, Telmar Madagascar
and Inova in Burkina Faso, according to Marcus Cudina, Western
Union's senior vice president for strategy "This is the first
operation to launch service in the MTN Group, the others will now be
rolled out", Cudina said.
Western Union and MTN also announced that they
will give away 9,000 branded mobile "Yellow Phones" via
promotions throughout Uganda over the next few months.
MTN customers who receive these phones must
already have an active MTN Mobile Money account or sign up for one in
order to use the new remittance service.
"Our network of nearly half a million
locations, our experience in moving money across borders, and our
relationships with the world's most successful mobile operators such
as MTN, ideally position us to introduce many people to cross-border
financial services," said Nathalie Ferrant, inbound and business
development director, Middle East and Africa, Western Union.
She said Western Union's Mobile Money transfer
service will unlock new economic opportunities for thousands of
underserved consumers in Uganda, whose financial needs are not being
(Source: PC Advisor)