MoneyGram, First National Bank launch mobile money transfer service in South Africa

By bne IntelliNews April 12, 2013

Global money transfer company MoneyGram and South African First National Bank (FNB) have launched their first mobile money transfer service in Africa, providing FNB account holders with an option for sending and receiving international money transfers using their mobile phones, MoneyGram said in a statement. According to Carl Scheible, MoneyGram executive vice president for Africa and Europe, the company is committed to using mobile technology, as it complements and augments its traditional agent locations. MoneyGram signed last year an agreement with FNB, adding about 1,000 outlets of the bank to its agent network.

According to the World Bank, South Africa is the third largest recipient of African migrants in the world, estimated at 1.8 million people, MoneyGram said. Close to 900,000 South Africans living abroad send money back to their families with almost 50% of all remittance users sending funds once a month.

FNB is the commercial banking subsidiary of South Africa’s banking group FirstRand, one of the “big four” players on the South African market.

In November 2012, South African telecoms group MTN and retail giant Pick n Pay launched a mobile money transfer system, called Tyme Capital, which was the first of its kind in Africa’s biggest economy.

Mobile money transfer services are extremely popular in Kenya, where the dominant mobile operator Safaricom, 40%-owned by UK Vodafone, launched in 2007 its M-Pesa service, the pioneer of mobile money worldwide. Since then it has grown tremendously. As of end-September 2012 Kenya had 19.3 million mobile money transfer subscriptions, which accounted for 63.5% of the total number of mobile subscriptions. The total amount of deposits made through mobile phones soared 75% y/y to KES 205.7bn (EUR 6bn) in Q3 2012, according to data from the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK). Currently, about 80% of all mobile money transactions globally occur in East Africa.

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