Senegal’s second-largest operator by connections, Free, signed a deal with Comviva to upgrade its mobile money platform, paving the way to launch more advanced financial services into the market.

In a statement, Free CEO Mamadou Mbengue said its Free Money platform would help reinforce its position in payments by developing new “customer-centric digital financial services”.

Currently Free Money offers bill payment, money transfer, withdrawals through agents and operator-related purchases such as airtime.

Although not specifying the types of new services it plans to provide, the tie-up is said to open faster integrations with third parties including merchants, banks and remittance companies.

Other upgrades include the ability to increase the capacity and security of transactions, opening the ability to process larger bulk payments.

The operator’s two mobile rivals, Orange and Expresso Telecom both provide mobile money services under the Orange Money and E-Money brands respectively.

Free was formally known as Tigo Senegal. It was rebranded after the unit was bought from Millicom by Saga Africa Holdings in 2018.

One of the new company’s major shareholders is a holding company owned by French Billionaire Xavier Niel, who is also the largest shareholder of French operator Free Mobile’s parent Iliad.