Western Union Offers Mobile Money Transfers

Mobile banking and mobile payments are just two kinds of  financial applications coming to a head on cell phones. Western Union has now unveiled mobile money transfers in Canada–a move indicating that despite security worries, mobile financial transactions are going to be common in developed economies.

EnStream, creators of the Zoompass Mobile Wallet, is a mobile-commerce joint venture company owned by Canadian wireless service providers Bell Canada, Rogers Communications, and TELUS Corp. With Zoompass, people in Canada are able to send, receive, and request digital currency within that country using their cell phones.

Sure, financial transactions via mobiles has been old hat in emerging economies like South Africa, as reader Mozfat recently informed us. That’s because in those nations, not many people have access to banks and other financial institutions, while in developed economies people can easily get bank or credit union accounts (or go to their local liquor-and-check-cashing store). They can also access their accounts by personal computer, while in less-wealthy countries people can better access the Internet by phone.

Western Union and EnStream want to change the paradigm, maybe even democratize the way money is sent and received

“Until now, our alliances have been with mobile operators in developing countries… This is our first strategic alliance with a mobile operator consortium in a country where 96% of the population has a bank account,” Brian Fox, Western Union’s Senior Vice President and General Manager for Canada, said in a release.

“Together we are changing the way money moves around the globe. International remittances are a logical extension of the Zoompass functionality, and they build on our vision to give every Canadian mobile subscriber the ability to send money to anyone, anywhere in the world,” Robin Dua, President of EnStream LP, also said.

A century ago, international money transfers required a letter of credit and telegrams exchanged between banks. Mobile phone transfers won’t just make the process light years faster–I’m hoping that they may even put those dreaded Craigslist “send me money by Western Union” scam artists out of business.