Orange connects mobile money users to Airtel service in West Africa

Orange opened its first international mobile payment service that connects to a rival mobile money service offered by Airtel in Africa, less than a week after Vodafone opened its first international payment service in the region.

The France-headquartered operator opened the door for users of its Orange Money service in Côte d'Ivoire to send money to Airtel Money customers in neighbouring Burkina Faso and vice-versa. Orange said the move is the first time it has enabled customers to transfer funds to a carrier outside its footprint, and is also the first time Burkina Faso users will be able to send money to Côte d'Ivoire subscribers.

Thierry Millet, Orange's SVP for mobile financial services and NFC, explained that the move follows a successful launch of an international mobile money transfer service connecting Orange Money users in Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire and Mali that has racked up 200,000 users since its introduction in mid-2013.

"Following the successful launch of Orange Money International Transfer…we want to develop new ways to allow our customers to send and receive money between countries in the West African Economy and Monetary Union," Millet said.

The Airtel Money collaboration allows customers of both operators to send money by entering the amount to transfer and the recipient's mobile phone number. The money is transferred straight away, and can be used by the receiver to pay bills, transfer to another account, or withdrawn in hard currency at an Orange Money distribution outlet.

Orange announced the move a few days after rival Vodafone opened its first international payment channel for users of its M-Pesa mobile money service covering Tanzania and Kenya.

M-Pesa users in the east African countries can securely transfer money between the markets through a combined network of 180,000 agents. Michael Joseph, Vodafone director of mobile money, said the service has a large potential user base because the countries have a "substantial unbanked population transacting mainly in cash."

For more:
- see this Orange announcement

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