Vodafone, Western Union Offer Transfers Via Cell

Vodafone, Western Union Offer Transfers Via Cell

"Vodafone Group PLC …announce[d] a partnership Monday with Western Union Co. to allow international money transfers via mobile phones, as the wireless carrier seeks to tap into the increasing flow of cross-border remittances.

The companies are initially launching a pilot program that will allow residents of Reading in the United Kingdom to send money to family members and friends in Kenya, where Vodafone is the 40% owner of local wireless operator Safaricom Ltd. If that program is successful, the companies will expand it to other countries. [Wall Street Journal]

Money transfers have already become a success in Kenya via the M-PESA ("M" for "mobile" and "Pesa," the Swahili word for "money") system, which, for example, can be used by someone in an urban area to forward money to relatives in rural areas, and people in rural areas can pay off a loan in an urban area….

"What we are doing is extending M-PESA internationally, and we are partnering with Western Union to do this, because they have such a huge foot print in terms of stores and knowledge in the space of international remittances," [Caroline] Dewing, [a spokeswoman at Vodafone] said. [PC World]

"The three companies are changing the way money moves around the globe," said Mr Michael Joseph, CEO Safaricom.

"International remittances form a significant part of the total income for some Kenyans, and the partnership with Western Union will provide Kenyans with an opportunity to receive small values of cash from abroad in a fast, safe and affordable way," he added. [Daily Nation, Kenya]

Source: World Bank
December 08

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