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Airtel Niger connects to MFS hub and launches cross-border money transfers

Bharti Airtel’s mobile wallet customers in Niger can now transfer money into other African nations for the first time.

The Airtel Money service already offers international transfers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Zambia, and Niger now joins these markets. The service can be used to transfer money as well as pay remittances. Airtel Money has 10 million registered users across these 4 markets.

"This offering will raise the level of convenience in cross-border payments across the four countries with a wide Airtel Money agency network and a highly competitive fee structure. This will facilitate remittances and trade across the region," said Airtel Africa Chief Executive Officer Christian de Faria.

In addition, Airtel Niger has connected to MFS Africa’s Money Transfer Hub, allowing customers in Niger to transfer money between their home market and MTN’s subsidiaries in Benin and Cote d’Ivoire. According to World Bank estimates, Niger respectively receives $32 million and $28 million from these markets, accounting for nearly 40% of Niger’s total annual remittances of $157 million.

Airtel Niger is the first of Airtel’s units to be connected to the MFS Africa Hub, following an agreement between Airtel Africa and MFS Africa which will see all of Airtel’s operations in the region connected to the hub. Through partnerships with major operator groups such as MTN, Orange, Safaricom and Vodafone, MFS Africa’s hub connects to 50 million mobile wallet users in Africa.

“The MFS Africa Hub has emerged in the past year as a leading mobile money Hub both in terms of footprint and adequacy of the offering to African customers. It is an ideal solution for our over 35 million Airtel Money registered customers to send and receive money across borders within Africa and to receive money from overseas,” said Chidi Okpala, Director, Airtel Money at Airtel Africa.

Transferring money into and within Africa is significantly more expensive than in other markets – the global average fee for international transfers is around 8% of face value, while fees for transfers into Africa sit at around 12%. Transferring between African countries is even more expensive, at around 20% of face value.

With over $50 billion sent in remittances across both informal and formal channels in Africa, the hub has the potential to provide massive savings for Africans. A World Bank report put this figure at around US$4 billion if fees fell to 5% of G8 average.

“Airtel is a major player in the Africa telecommunication space, and we are excited to work with them to open low-cost, convenient mobile remittance corridors,” said Dare Okoudjou, founder and CEO of MFS Africa. “Airtel Money users can now send money to loved ones and business partners in other African countries at a fraction of current costs; this marks a significant step toward our goal of reducing intra-African remittances costs to a single-digit rate.” 

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