MoneyGram and Vodafone M-Pesa bring mobile remittances to new countries

People will be able to transfer funds from around 200 countries to users of Vodafone's mobile money transfer service M-Pesa

MoneyGram and Vodafone have added a new way to remit money to mobile phone users in developing countries, linking the money-transfer service with the network operator's M-Pesa mobile wallet service. Other payment networks already offer similar services in some of the countries where M-Pesa operates.

The agreement allows MoneyGram's 334,000 agents around the globe to send customers' funds directly to Vodafone M-Pesa accounts. Transfers can also be made via moneygram.com using mobile phones running iOS, Android or Windows 8.

M-Pesa allows Vodafone mobile customers over 18 to send money to any mobile number or bank account. The service can be used to pay bills or to withdraw, transfer and deposit money. The service is meant for rural low-income areas where many people lack access to a traditional bank account. Mobile money can provide a low-cost method to bank and transfer funds, the companies said in a news release.

MoneyGram offers money transfer services worldwide through a global network of agents that include retailers, international post offices and financial institutions. By working together, the companies want to enable users to transfer funds directly from around 200 countries where MoneyGram has agents to the millions of users of M-Pesa, they said.

Countries with M-Pesa services include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Fiji, India, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa and Tanzania, with more to follow during 2014, according to Vodafone. As of September, M-Pesa had nearly 16 million active customers who make in excess of €900 million (US$1.2 billion) worth of transactions per month, and the service has approximately 165,000 authorized agents worldwide, it added.

Rival money transfer service Western Union already works with M-Pesa to remit money to mobile users in Kenya and Tanzania; with MTN Mobile Money in Uganda, and with Tigo in Central America.

In the Philippines, both Western Union and Moneygram can send money to users of the Smart Money service run by network operator Smart Communications.

Money transfers from mobile phones to MoneyGram agents are also possible from Italy and the United Arab Emirates.

The joint service from Vodafone and MoneyGram will be launched in the second quarter of 2014, with additional roll-outs planned throughout the remainder of the year.

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