Western Union, (NYSE:WU), a leader in global payment services, and Etisalat Group (ADSM: ETEL.AD), a leading mobile operator in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, today announced that they have agreed to introduce the Western Union Mobile Money Transfer service in the 18 countries where Etisalat operates.
"Our research shows that many of our customers want to send and receive money via electronic channels like the mobile phone," said Khalid Fellahi, Senior Vice President of Electronic Channels, Western Union. "This alliance with Etisalat, a leading and rapidly expanding mobile operator in the region, will offer Etisalat's extensive subscriber base a convenient service they can use anywhere, anytime."
Once agreements are signed between Western Union and Etisalat's mobile network operators and the service is introduced, it will enable Etisalat's subscribers to send and receive Western Union Money Transfer® transactions using their mobile "wallets," or accounts tied to their mobile phones. Subscribers who initiate transactions from their mobile phones would be able to send funds to a receiver for cash payout at more than 400,000 Western Union Agent locations in 200 countries and territories. In addition, Etisalat subscribers would be able to send funds to other selected mobile subscribers who have mobile wallets.
Etisalat subscribers who receive a Western Union money transfer in their mobile wallets would be able to use the funds to pay bills, top up airtime, send money domestically or internationally, or withdraw cash at a cash-out agent or any participating ATM.
Commenting on the alliance, Essa Al-Haddad, Etisalat's Group Chief Marketing Officer, said: "Etisalat's association with Western Union is a substantiation of our relentless commitment to increase the reach of our customers by offering innovative services. This strategic alliance will help us leverage each other's experience and strengths - including our strong base of subscribers and award-winning customer service and Western Union's expertise in moving money around the globe and their well-known brand - to enable customers to send and receive money using their mobile phones."
Rashed Alabbar, Etisalat's Director of Mobile Commerce, said, "This agreement with Western Union is part of Etisalat's broader mobile commerce strategy to offer innovative and cost-effective mobile payment applications to our 135 million mobile customers across our operations in 18 countries, including the UAE. Etisalat has been a leader in providing innovative mCommerce services in the UAE, and this association will enable us to extend the reach of our services across the globe."
In 2010, Etisalat Group closed the year by reaching 135 million customers, and 2% revenue growth over 2009.
Western Union offers the Mobile Money Transfer Service in the Philippines with Smart Communications and Globe Telecom; in Kenya with Safaricom; in Malaysia with Maxis; and in Canada with EnStream. In addition, consumers can now visit one of more than 80,000 Western Union Agent locations in 48 countries to send money directly to a mobile wallet in select countries. Western Union also has agreements with other mobile operators and banks to introduce the service in the future.