Western Union debuts Nigerian mobile money transfer
Western Union has launched a mobile money service in Nigeria, which it says will help boost financial inclusion and provide new methods of money transfer for people sending and receiving money to Africa.
The key to the new service is local company eTranzact International, which specialises in payments processing in Africa. Launched in September 2003, eTranzact has operations in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire and the UK. Customers of the eTranzact Mobile Money platform will now be able to interact with Western Union on their mobile phones, receiving Western Union mobile money transfer from 23 ‘sender’ countries.
Nigeria has a mobile phone penetration rate of 70.64% in June 2013, according to figures provided by Informa’s World Cellular Information Service. By contrast, just 21% of the country’s 162.5 million population has a bank account, according to the World Bank. The eTranzact Mobile Money service itself is a platform that lets users pay utility and cable TV bills, make merchant payments, top up their mobile phone credits and make third party transfers.
“Western Union continues to introduce new service offerings to complement our multi-product, multi-channel strategy,” said Aida Diarra, vice president for north, central and west Africa at Western Union. “We are very pleased to launch our new relationship with eTranzact to increase the number of access points for consumers to use our services worldwide, facilitate financial inclusion, and provide convenient mobile solutions for those who want new methods for money transfer transactions. To date, we have 19 active mobile money transfer deployments in 17 countries, and remain committed to expanding our mobile service offerings in key regions.”
Western Union has been criticised in recent years over a perceived lack of security and over-reliance on an agent model. In response, the firm has aggressively adopted a multi-channel approach. Meanwhile, other providers such as M-Pesa in Kenya have achieved success with mobile money and exported it to countries such as India, while smaller competitors such as Azimo have adopted a more online approach to undercut the competition and attempt to offer better pricing. Globally, the value of cross-border remittance payments is estimated at $514 billion in 2012, according to the World Bank.
“We are excited to work with Western Union and leverage the power of their global network on behalf of consumers across Nigeria,” said Valentine Obi, chief executive at eTranzact. “eTranzact Mobile Money service – PocketMoni – is specifically designed to transform a user’s mobile phone into a highly interactive, feature-rich payment device, and our relationship with Western Union will allow for 24/7 access to money transfer transactions. Adding Western Union money transfer capability to the platform is another step in building a comprehensive suite of mobile services, and enhances our customer value proposition.”