African telecom operators MTN and Bharti Airtel announced their mobile money alliance.
The strategic partnership will enable transfer of money between Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso, two neighboring countries, for the operators’ mobile money customers on either side of the border.
Until now, moving money between the two countries was mired by high fees, high usage of informal channels and a lack of proximity to withdraw money.
At present, MTN has strong presence in the mobile money market in Ivory Coast, while Airtel has done the same in Burkina Faso.
“With a sizeable community of Burkinabe working in Ivory Coast and sending money back to their home country, the partnership will greatly enhance the Mobile Money service for customers in both countries,” said Pieter Verkade, chief commercial officer at MTN Group.
This is the first cross border mobile to mobile remittance service in West Africa. It is designed to eliminate current pains associated with remitting funds between both countries.
As of 31 December 2013, MTN Mobile Money had 14.8 million registered users, and was available in 14 countries. MTN recorded 207.8 million subscribers across its operations.
On the other hand, Bharti Airtel had over 289 million customers across its operations at the end of January 2014.
In February 2014, telecom industry body GSMA said the number of active mobile money users continues to grow rapidly year-on-year, with more than 61 million accounts active as of June 2013, compared to 37 million in June 2012.
The number of registered mobile money accounts nearly tripled from 71 million in June 2011 to 203 million in June 2013. Services have expanded across a greater number of regions, with 219 services in 84 countries at the end of 2013, compared to 179 services in 75 countries at the end of 2012, said GSMA.