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Orange expands Money services in Africa

Partners with Western Union to add global money transfer to important platform for Orange's African ambitions


Published: 28 November, 2011

READ MORE: Africa & Middle East | Orange | Billing

Almost every week brings a new mobile money initiative by a major cellco, and Orange is one of the most active, looking to be the guiding hand for pan-European systems and a key partner for other operators. Its latest partnership is with the BNP Paribas bank in its native France, though it also sees high growth potential for m-commerce services in Africa, the main focus of its expansion strategies.

So last week also saw it signing a deal with Western Union to add international money transfer facilities to the Orange Money offering, which is currently available in eight African markets and has 3m subscribers. Global transfer capabilities are now added to the existing core functions of domestic transfer, m-payments, and financial advice for unbanked customers.

Orange Money has tripled its customer base in Africa in the past year and recently added Botswana and Cameroon to its footprint. The service was first launched in Cote d'Ivoire in December 2008 and is also available in Senegal, Madagascar, Mali, Niger and Kenya. The next market will be Mauritius.

But allowing international transfers significantly extends the target market, to Africans living outside the region. For example, Kenyans living abroad sent home a total of $641m in 2010 and this is likely to hit $840m in 2011.

"Orange and Western Union, a global leader in international money transfer services, have joined forces to develop a new service, which will enable Orange Money customers to receive transfers directly on their mobile phones via Western Union's global system," said a company statement.

"Orange Money is a very important part of our strategy in Africa and emerging markets," Marc Rennard, executive director of Orange's Africa, Middle East and Asia operations, said. "Mobile payment services have the potential to bring cost effective and secure access to banking services to people with low incomes." In sub-Saharan Africa, 10% of the population have a bank account but 60% have a cellphone.

The Paribas agreement offers customers of that bank a mobile service for account viewing and management, local and person-to-person mobile payments, and online customer service.

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