Western Union Bringing Mobile Money to Africa

The most venerable name in wire transfers, Western Union, is getting with the times.

According to an announcement made late last week, Western Union has officially partnered with MTN, one of the largest mobile operators in Africa, to introduce what’s being called a cross-border mobile money transfer.

The target, however, is collectively spread across the emerging markets of Africa.

Western Union’s new enterprise will be native to the various (close to two dozen markets) presently served by MTN.

The new service 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.