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Traditional Money Transfer Players Continue to Invest in Mobile

Peer-to-peer (P2P) mobile money transfer is a huge business, both domestic and international, and growing. The results from the GSMA
Global Mobile Money Adoption Survey
released at Mobile World Congress showed that during the month of June 2012, there were:

  • 30 million active mobile money customers
  • 224 million transactions (PayPal did a monthly
    average of 196 million during Q3 2012)
  • $4.6 billion USD transferred

The survey results show that there are more mobile money accounts than bank accounts in Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania and Uganda. Globally, there are 150 mobile money services for the unbanked, 41 of which were launched in 2012. The industry is also seeing more competition, with 40 markets having at least two different services available.

People are moving money to each other using their phones. It’s a key mobile financial service. That’s why it comes as no surprise that traditional bricks-and-mortar players, like MoneyGram and Western Union, are continuing to invest in new products to leverage their existing systems and stay relevant in the mobile world.

Qtel, one of our customers and Qatar’s leading mobile operator, haspartnered with global money transfer company MoneyGram in a multi-year
agreement. The partnership will expand Ooredoo’s (previously known as Qtel) international mobile money transfer service from three possible destinations (the Philippines,Pakistan and Nepal) to 197 countries. MoneyGram gets to leverage Ooredoo’s technology, and access to Qatar’s significant population of migrant workers who are sending money home each month.

Western Union (another customer), probably the largest and best known money transfer service, has been busy announcing new partnerships
this year. One is with Nigerian company Virtual Terminal Network (VTN), and will bring mobile money transfer, bill pay and purchases solution to that
country. Another is with retailer Carrefour Argentina and will offer international money transfer and bill payment service there. WU certified our Wallet
Platform for mobile transfers, which means we can offer operators the option to offer a Western Union mobile money transfer service to their end customers.

Additionally, Rachel King’s Wall Street Journal blog reported that Western Union is investing in analytics and investigating digital currencies like Bitcoin. The company is also investigating the role it can play in all kinds of other online transactions.

It’s clear that the old guard faces increasing competition in its money transfer business from start-ups, banks and operatorsgetting into mobile. But they aren’t going down without a fight.

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