Western union to introduce account-based money transfer in Africa

Western Union, a global leader in payment solutions, is now working with its existing banking agents in Africa to introduce account-based money transfer (ABMT) services set to leverage digital access channels available to the banks’ account-holders.

The service evolutions are set to expand in Africa under the provision of a framework agreement extension recently signed between Western Union and Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), the parent company of the Ecobank Group.

Western Union will offer the ABMT services across 30 countries where Ecobank currently provides the Western Union Money TransferSM service. It will in addition enable Ecobank account-holders to use existing channels including mobile, internet or ATM to deposit their funds directly into their accounts.

“The Middle East and African markets play host to a large expatriate population, and Western Union provides a crucial bridge back home for them,” said Mr. Jean Claude Farah, Western Union Senior Vice President Middle East and Africa.

Nigeria, Kenya and Ivory Coast will be among the first countries to roll-out the service, adding to similar existing ABMT facilities with Absa in South Africa and La Poste Tunisienne.

The company, through collaborations with Mobile Network Operators and mobile wallet providers including MTN, Vodafone ,Safaricom and Innova, has since also extended access to its services via mobile phone to millions of consumers across Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Madagascar, as well as the West African Economic and Monetary Union.

While Western Union’s Agent network across the African continent has doubled in the last five years to exceed 26 000 locations, Nigeria’s Agent network growth has kept pace, reaching close to 1000 Agent locations. In Kenya, the company has some 1000 agent locations.

Western Union has recently been at the forefront of innovation with a focus on increasing access to its money transfer service via digital and alternative channels to complement the expansion of its brick-and-mortar agent network in Africa.

The company yesterday announced it had reached its following opening of the 500,000th agent location following the opening of Freedom News” in New York City.

Speaking during the marking of the 500,000th milestone, Hikmet Ersek, President and CEO Western Union, said Western Union is changing quickly by building on strong global fundamentals including the company’s brand, agent network and regulatory expertise.

The network now spans more than 200 countries and territories, and is a centerpiece of Western Union’s strategy to provide mainstream financial services – either cash, card or digitally based – to consumers and businesses globally.

As of March 31, 2012, the Western Union, Vigo and Orlandi Valuta branded services were offered through a combined network of approximately 495,000 agent locations in 200 countries and territories.

In 2011, The Western Union Company completed 226 million consumer-to-consumer transactions worldwide, moving $81 billion of principal between consumers, and completed 425 million business payments.

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