MTN Uganda and Western Union have announced a new service that will allow the mobile operator’s subscribers to send and receive funds internationally via their handsets. The partners plan to launch the service in up to 12 further countries in the future. The two companies also said they will give away 9,000 handsets branded as Yellow Phones to loyal customers in Uganda, a new strategy for Western Union which was first reported by Mobile Money Live sister publication Mobile World Daily at the recent Mobile World Congress. The Yellow Phone is inspired by the colour of Western Union’s own familiar brand.
The new money transfer service announced by the two partners means that more than two million customers of MTN Uganda’s domestic Mobile Money service can receive funds sent through the Western Union system from overseas. The funds are either paid to one of Western Union’s agents around the world or into a foreign bank account. The funds are then accessible from a Ugandan user’s Mobile Money account. The same MTN customers can also send outbound funds internationally from the accounts on their handsets via the same route. Recipients in foreign countries can get a cash payout from a Western Union agent or directly to their mobile handset if their mobile operator is one of those with which Western Union has an agreement.
The partners plan to expand the same service to those other markets where MTN’s local operator is already offering the Mobile Money service and where regulation permits international remittance payments. Currently the service is offered in 12 markets including Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon and Rwanda.
The Yellow Phones will be given away over the next few months via promotions throughout Uganda. The handsets are designed to reward loyal customers. To receive a phone, a customer must already have an active MTN Mobile Money account or sign up for one in order to access the new remittance service.