Western Union and Bharti Airtel to pilot mobile remittance system

Western Union and Bharti Airtel to pilot mobile remittance system

Money transfer operator Western Union is teaming with Indian telco Bharti Airtel to develop a mobile international remittance system in India.

The new mobile money transfer service will enable people outside the country to send remittances to recipients in India.

Western Union has 45,000 agent locations, across 5000 towns and cities, in India whilst Bharti Airtel claims 50 million mobile phone customers in the country.

Western Union cites statistics from the Reserve Bank of India that suggest the annual value of remittances into India stood at over $26 billion for the fiscal year 2006 - 2007, accounting for approximately 10% of the global inward remittance market.

Commenting on the deal, Gopal Vittal, director, marketing and communications, Bharti Airtel, says: "This will help us move money via mobile in a fast and convenient way, supporting low-value transactions."

Matt Dill, general manager, Western Union Mobile, adds: "This is a very exciting development, especially given the expanse and reach of mobile services in the Indian subcontinent."

The service is subject to regulatory approval.

The move follows an agreement between Western Union and the GSMA - an international trade group of mobile phone operators - to develop a system that would enable customers to use their handsets to conduct cross-border fund transfers. Bharti Airtel is chairing the programme, which includes 35 mobile phone operators with 800 million customers in more than 100 countries.

Earlier this year the GSMA agreed to pilot a similar international remittance system using mobile payments technology with MasterCard.

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