Western Union- and MTN-branded Mobile “Yellow Phones” Promote Financial Inclusion for Ugandans
The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU) and MTN Group (JSE: MTN) today announced the launch of a mobile money transfer service in Uganda, allowing MTN customers to send and receive money across borders using just their mobile phones for the first time.
The service, announced today at a press conference in Kampala, marks the debut of an offering from Western Union that allows the more than 2 million customers of MTN’s mobile money transfer service, Mobile Money, in Uganda to add funds to their accounts that were sent through Western Union’s system. Senders send the funds as they normally would – either in-person at 450,000 Western Union Agent locations in 200 countries and territories, from westernunion.com in 22 countries or directly from a bank account in select countries. The receiver of the funds simply chooses to “pull” the transaction into a MTN Mobile Money account.
The new service also enables MTN customers to send money internationally with Western Union directly from their Mobile Money accounts for cash payout at Western Union Agent locations worldwide or to subscribers of select mobile phone companies with which Western Union has agreements.
Western Union and MTN also announced today that they will provide 9,000 branded mobile “Yellow Phones” to Ugandans. Customers who receive these phones must already have an active MTN Mobile Money account or sign up for one in order to use the new remittance service. The phones will be given away via ongoing promotions throughout Uganda over the next few months.
“Western Union is changing quickly and we are leading the way in bringing international remittances to mobile subscribers around the globe,” said Diane Scott, Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer and President, Western Union Ventures. “Our network of nearly half a million locations, our experience in moving money across borders, and our relationships with the world’s most successful mobile operators such as MTN, ideally position us to introduce many people to cross-border financial services.
“Our mobile money transfer service will unlock new economic opportunities for thousands of underserved consumers in Uganda, whose financial needs are not being met elsewhere,” Scott added. “By deploying these powerful tools for sending and receiving funds – particularly in areas lacking financial infrastructure – Western Union and MTN are helping to create more self-sufficient local economies.”
“MTN Mobile Money has seen great success in Uganda,” said Christian de Faria, MTN Group Chief Commercial Officer. “We currently have more than 2 million Mobile Money customers, and we continue to grow exponentially. By joining forces with Western Union, our customers can now receive funds directly in their MTN Mobile Money accounts quickly and easily. MTN looks forward to expanding this offering in new countries with Western Union.”
MTN has deployed its Mobile Money service in 12 markets, including Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon and Rwanda. Following the launch of the Mobile Money transfer in Uganda, MTN and Western Union plan to introduce the service in other countries where Mobile Money is offered, and where regulation permits international remittance.