Western Union to transfer money to ‘mobile wallets’

Posted on October 19, 2007  /  3 Comments

Mobile phones are about to become the simplest and quickest way to transfer money across borders, under a deal announced yesterday by Western Union and GSM Association, the main mobile phone operators’ body.

The agreement could have a big impact on global cross-border remittances, worth an estimated $500bn a year, and provide a springboard for mobile carriers and Western Union to offer other mobile banking services using “mobile wallet” technology. Cross-border money transfers valued at up to $100 in countries such as India, the Philippines, Mexico and China – which have large volumes of remittances from migrant workers – will be an early priority of the deal.

Thirty-five mobile operators with 800m customers in more than 100 countries have signed up to take part in the GSMA Mobile Money Transfer pilot scheme led by Sunil Mittal, managing director of Bharti Airtel. Other participants include MTN, Orange, Orascom, Smart, Telenor and VimpelCom.

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  1. Sri Lankan readers might remember the popular ‘Uncle Albert’ TV commercial of Western Union.

    It shows how the best man calls a relative (Uncle Albert) in London and gets money transferred to replace a lost ring in the eleventh hour.

    Perhaps, in future the best men will be spared of running to the bank as Uncle Albert can deposit money directly to the jeweler’s mobile phone. He only have to go there to collect it.

  2. How will this work? I’m confused?! Will I get money on my mobile or will my brother send the money to a agent in my area and then i go there and collect it? Please help here

  3. Val,

    Generally this is how it works:

    Your brother pays a ‘merchant’ in cash (say $ 100) and gets his mobile ‘topped up’ with $ 100. (just like reloading)

    Then your bro sends that $ 100 to *your* phone. (=SMS) Now you have $ 100 m-cash in your ‘phone’.

    You can;

    (a) go to a merchant and get cash or
    (b) put that in your bank account or
    (c) transfer to another phone as a payment

    (Ordinary currency exchange rules apply)