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Western Union, Orascom ally to pilot mobile money transfers

The Western Union Company has created an alliance with Orascom Telecom Holding, one of the largest mobile operators in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Orascom and Western Union plan to work together to introduce mobile remittance services in select markets. The services aim to make low-principal, high-frequency remittances more convenient to the millions of consumers who send money every day.

Orascom Telecom, which was established in 1998, operates six mobile networks with a combined total of 77 million subscribers, including Djezzy in Algeria, Mobilink in Pakistan, Mobinil in Egypt, Tunisiana in Tunisia, Banglalink in Bangladesh, and Telecel Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe. In addition, in early 2008, Orascom Telecom acquired a licence in North Korea to operate mobile services.

Several of the countries where Orascom Telecom operates are among the top receivers of remittances in the world. For example, according to the World Bank, Bangladesh received US$6.6 billion in remittances in 2007, Pakistan received US$6.1 billion, and Egypt received US$5.9 billion.

"Orascom Telecom mobile networks are in areas with high populations of people who have limited access to financial services," said Naguib Sawiris, Orascom Telecom Chairman and CEO. "We believe this alliance, supported by our current mobile subscribers throughout the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, presents an effortless method to bring financial services to many of the world's families for the first time."

Western Union, together with its affiliates Orlandi Valuta and Vigo, maintains the industry's largest global money transfer agent network with more than 355,000 locations in over 200 countries and territories. "As the need for remittances continues to grow, so does the desire for new channels to conduct quick, convenient and affordable money transfers," said Gail Galuppo, Western Union Executive Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer. "Western Union is already offering this convenience with mobile money transfers from select locations, and we look forward to working with Orascom Telecom to offer this option to their subscribers in the future."

The mobile money transfer service connects mobile operators to Western Union's trusted global "hub" for processing cross-border remittances. Once connected to Western Union's service, mobile operators use their own "mobile wallet" software to enable person-to-person mobile money transfers over Western Union's global remittance network. The Mobile Money Transfer service enables consumers to transfer money to or from mobile wallets and is being introduced into the global network of Western Union Agent locations for cash-to-mobile and mobile-to-cash transactions.

The agreement with Orascom Telecom is part of the pilot programme of Western Union and the GSM Association, the global trade association representing over 750 GSM mobile phone operators, to facilitate the development of cross-border mobile money transfer services.

Orascom Telecom is a leading international telecommunications company operates GSM networks in six high growth markets in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, having a total population under licence of approximately 440 million with an average mobile telephony penetration of 44% as of June 30, 2008. Orascom Telecom had over 77 million subscribers as of June 30, 2008. Orascom Telecom is controlled by Weather Investments, which also owns Wind Telecomunicazioni, Italy's third largest mobile operator and second largest fixed-line operator, and Wind Hellas, the third largest mobile operator in Greece.

More info: www.westernunion.com

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