Visa and Bharti Airtel push mobile money as telcos lead the way in developing markets

Visa and Bharti Airtel push mobile money as telcos lead the way in developing markets

Visa is to work with Bharti Airtel to extend its mobile money service to seven markets in Africa, including Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Seychelles and Tanzania.

The two companies will build on the existing capabilities of Airtel’s Mobile Money service, allowing subscribers to use their Airtel Money account to pay in stores and online wherever Visa is accepted. Additionally, customers can withdraw money and make payments from their Airtel Money account using a companion Visa card.

Visa and Airtel have already launched an Airtel Money Visa Card in Kenya and will roll out services in other markets starting in early 2015.

Vish Sowani, vice president of MNO partnerships for Visa, says: “For most new subscribers, this will represent their first payment account and bring some of the latest digital payment advancements into the everyday experiences of Airtel’s customers.”

A new report from the GSMA shows the rapid proliferation of mobile money services in developing markets, with 255 services in 89 countries, with mobile network operators leading the pace. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the birthplace of mobile money, over 50% of all MNOs have already launched a mobile money service and by December 2014, 23% of all mobile connections there were linked with a mobile money account.

In three-quarters of the markets where mobile money is available, agent outlets outnumber bank branches and in 25 markets, there are more than ten times as many mobile money agents as bank branches.

The report shows that the number of active mobile money users continues to grow rapidly year-on-year, with more than 100 million accounts active as of December 2014, compared to 73 million in December 2013, an increase of 41%.

Half of all new mobile money launches took place outside of the Sub-Saharan Africa region; for instance, in Latin America and the Caribbean, the number of active accounts increased by 50% over the year, demonstrating the significant traction that mobile money is gaining globally.

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