Major African MFS operation set to offer international transfers

One of the most prolific mobile financial services available in Africa will soon expand further via a new partnership. Orange, in conjunction with Western Union, is developing new aspects of its Orange Money service, which recently crossed the threshold of 3 million customers in the 8 countries where it is currently offered.

The service has tripled its customer base in the past year, and was recently made available in Botswana and Cameroon, in partnership with the Standard Chartered Bank and the BICEC (BPCE group) respectively. The mobile phone-based payment service is designed to meet the needs of customers in Africa and the Middle East; customers can open an Orange Money account regardless of whether they have a bank account.

The service allows users to carry out simple banking operations and transactions in total security. The three key services include:

-          money transfers, where users can send money using their phone to any Orange mobile customer in the country;

-          payments, giving users an easier way to pay their electricity, water, television or phones bills, as well as providing a simple way to buy mobile phone credit from any location;

-          financial services, including solutions facilitating savings and insurance.

The new partnership between Orange and Western Union aims to upgrade the service in the near future to allow customers to receive international money transfers directly on their mobile phones via Western Union's global system. According to the World Bank, countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia (AMEA) in which the Group operates receive more than 25 million transfers every year.

Gregg Marshall, Global Head, Mobile Services, Western Union, said: “We are pioneering a full range of ways for our consumers to send and receive money. This alliance...will introduce cross-border remittances to an entirely new segment of customers by allowing them to receive money using just their mobile phones."

Commenting on the development of Orange Money, Marc Rennard, Orange’s Executive Director for AMEA operations, stated that “Mobile payment services have the potential to bring cost-effective and secure access to banking services to people with low incomes, who often live in rural or remote areas. By providing our customers with the means to save money, pay bills, run their businesses and receive money from abroad, we are...able to play an active role in the economic and social development of the country.”

First launched in Côte d’Ivoire in December 2008, Orange Money is also available in Senegal, Madagascar, Mali, Niger and Kenya, as well as in Botswana and Cameroon. It will soon be launched in Mauritius. MFS services offer a huge potential in sub-Saharan Africa in particular, where less than 10% of the population have access to a bank account but more than 60% have a mobile phone.

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