The GSM Association (GSMA), a global trade association representing over 700 GSM mobile phone operators, and The Western Union Company (NYSE:WU), a global leader in money-transfer services, today announced an agreement to facilitate the development of cross-border mobile money transfer services.
Western Union and the GSMA are developing a commercial and technical framework that mobile operators can use to deploy services that enable consumers to send and receive low-denomination, high frequency money transfers using their mobile phones. The first commercial services that make use of the framework are anticipated to be rolled out beginning in the second quarter of 2008.
The framework forms a key element of both Western Union’s mobile strategy and the GSMA’s Mobile Money Transfer program which aims to use the reach and ease of mobile money transfer services to expand the mobile financial services market and stimulate social and economic development. Mobile money transfer services will make it simple, quick and affordable for more people to send small amounts of money through a conventional and regulated system. Both Western Union and the GSMA believe there is an opportunity to create and grow a large new market for low denomination transfers.
“Mobile networks now cover more than 80 percent of the world’s population and 3 billion people* have a mobile phone, creating an unprecedented opportunity to extend the benefits of financial services to the majority of the world’s families for the first time.” said Rob Conway, CEO of the GSMA. “Mobile money transfers are a key driver in the development of a potentially vast market for financial services delivered via the mobile phone.”
“Western Union has a long-tradition of innovation,” said Western Union President and CEO Christina Gold. “Our focus on the mobile money transfer space is an important step in expanding the range of Western Union’s global services to a new category of consumers. Our brand, extensive network, and compliance capabilities, combined with the GSMA members’ market reach, uniquely positions Western Union in the mobile money transfer marketplace.”
The Western Union mobile service will connect operators to Western Union’s existing global money transfer system, which processed approximately 17 percent of the world’s remittance volume in 2006. Once connected to the Western Union service, operators will be able to use their own ‘mobile wallet’ software to enable person-to-person mobile money transfers over Western Union’s cross-border remittance network. The Mobile Money Transfer service will enable consumers to transfer money to or from mobile wallets and will offer a global network of Western Union Agent locations for cash-to-mobile and mobile-to-cash transactions.
Thirty-five GSMA operators with more than 800 million customers in more than 100 countries are participating in the GSMA Mobile Money Transfer program. Led by Sunil Mittal, the Chairman and Managing Director of Bharti Airtel, the Mobile Money Transfer program is overseen by a steering committee made up of representatives from Bharti, MTN, Orange, Orascom, Smart, Telenor and VimpelCom.
“Remittances are playing a vital role in the social and economic development of India and many other developing countries,” said Mr. Mittal. “This initiative will bring down the cost of lower-value and high-frequency mobile remittances considerably and also enable smaller amounts to be transferred in a fast and secure fashion, thereby benefiting millions of people in the developing world.”
Western Union and its affiliates provide money transfer services across 200 countries through a network of more than 312,000 Agent locations.
Notes to editors:
The GSMA and Western Union will provide more details at the forthcoming Mobile Asia Congress, which takes place in Macau between 12th and 15th November.
The Western Union Company
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About the GSMA The GSM Association (GSMA) is the global trade association representing more than 700 GSM mobile phone operators across 218 countries and territories of the world. In addition, more than 200 manufacturers and suppliers support the Association’s initiatives as key partners.
The primary goals of the GSMA are to ensure mobile phones and wireless services work globally and are easily accessible, enhancing their value to individual customers and national economies, whiles creating news business opportunities for operators and their suppliers. The Association’s members serve more than two billion customers – 82% of the world’s mobile phone users.
For more information about the GSM Association see:
For more information about the GSM Association MMT Programme see:
About The Western Union Company
Western Union, together with its affiliates Orlandi Valuta and Vigo, is a leading provider of global money-transfer services, providing people with fast, reliable and convenient ways to send money around the world, pay bills and purchase money orders through a network of more than 312,000 Agent locations in over 200 countries and territories. For more information, visit www.WesternUnion.com.
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