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Western Union expands mobile services with Nigeria ewallet launch

Nigerian consumers can pay by calling a number

Western Union Co. launched a new mobile money transfer service for Nigerian consumers to continue its goal of offering mobile commerce services around the world.

The company uses the eTranzact platform PocketMoni to let consumers send and receive funds via mobile as well as pay bills. To start a mobile transaction, however, consumers must initiate via, which is not optimized for mobile.

“Western Union has a multiproduct, multichannel strategy, so this is part of the global strategy for the organization,” said Andrew Silver, corporate communications manager at Western Union, Englewood, CO. “The idea is to really create as many access points for consumers around the world to Western Union services.”

“This is part of an international approach,” he said. “We have 19 appointments in 17 countries. It’s an extension of that strategy.”

Mobile payments
While Western Union does have a mobile application that enables mobile payments, PocketMoni caters more to feature phones.

Once a subscriber initiates a transaction via the company’s Web site, the rest can be done on a feature phone. Consumers in Nigeria can receive a payment on their phone by calling a specific number.

Once consumers receive payments, they can pay bills by calling another number. Nigerian consumers who subscribe with Western Union can pay utility and cable television bills, make merchant payments, top up their phone credits and make third-party transfers.

There are more than 2,700 agent locations in Nigeria to help consumers send and receive money.

Union of services
Western Union tries to make its services accessible on multiple channels, and this move seems to signify that the company is continuing on that agenda.

In March, Western Union rolled out two new apps to help businesses offer mobile bill payments to consumers (see story).

Last year, the company expanded its services to Afghanistan to reach more consumers (see story).

For every country that it expands to, Western Union creates a unique system that caters to the individual population and economy.

“Market dynamics play a role in the products we roll out, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all, you have to take the dynamics of each country in to account and plan accordingly,” Mr. Silver said.

“The idea is to complement that presence with strong mobile services for consumers so we can continue to evolve in consumer needs,” he said.

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York