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Western Union to expand mobile money transfer service to Afghanistan

Western Union partnered with Roshan on the mobile initiative. The partnership will offer users a way to transfer funds from anywhere in the world to Afghanistan through M-Paisa.

“The key strategy here is to deliver money deeper and further into the rural areas in Afghanistan,” said Thor Hauge, vice president of sales at Western Union.

“One of the most important impacts of mobile money networks is the opportunity for financial inclusion to those that have not before had any options,” he said. “This not only increases the reach of Western Union into Afghanistan, but also provides more capital potential for Roshan M-Paisa mobile wallets to transact from, to buy airtime, top up, pay bills and send money.

The Western Union Co. provides consumers and businesses with fast, reliable and convenient ways to send and receive money around the world, to send payments and to purchase money orders.

Roshan is Afghanistan’s leading total communications provider with nearly 6 million active subscribers and a network that covers over 230 cities and towns in all of the country’s 34 provinces.

Money services
Through the Western Union and Roshan agreement, 1.2 million registered customers can receive their salaries, pay bills, receive and repay microfinance loans.

Additionally, consumers can send and receive money and purchase airtime directly from their mobile phones.

With the introduction of the new service, M-Paisa customers will be able to receive Western Union Money Transfer transactions from around the world directly in their mobile wallet accounts.

“We have created local marketing campaign in Afghanistan as well as in the communities abroad to get the word out to the people,” Mr. Hauge said.

“The service is so convenient, when a money transfer is sent, the receiver gets a text message letting them know a deposit has been received from Western Union- easy and convenient,” he said.

Payments extension
Western Union has been ramping up its mobile services over the past year.

Last year, Western Union and United Bank for Africa Plc expanded their partnership to increase the reach of money transfers (see story).

Additionally, Western Union rolled out a foreign-exchange payment service that lets small and medium-sized business clients make payments via their smartphones (see story).

“As Western Union evolves with the market, our focus is on the customer,” Mr. Hauge said. “In developing economies, the financially undeserved are a key focus for Western Union.

“With the advent of mobile money networks, Western Union is addressing this consumer economic segment,” he said. “Western Union is focused on developing new channels to bring more choices to consumers every day.

“Mobile money is another example of a market and technology innovation that Western Union sees as important for offering more choices to interact with our services.”

Final Take
Rimma Kats is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New Yor