Western Union has put together a Mobile Vendor Program, for standardising technical deployments of its money transfer services on mobile. MChek has received Western Union certification, while Bharti Group owned VAS company Comviva has been selected to participate. Western Union has inked pilot agreements with Smart Communications and Globe Telecom in the Philippines, Safaricom in Kenya, Vodafone in the U.K., Zain Group in Africa, Orascom Telecom in the Middle East and Africa and Maxis in Malaysia.

It says that it wants to expand it’s operator network, but I’m reminded of a deal announced two years ago, with 35 operators including India’s Bharti Airtel. Services were expected to be launched in the second quarter of 2008, but as far as we know, nothing happened. Recently, the State Bank of India tied up with Airtel and BSNL for mobile money transfer services.

No telecom operators have yet tied up with Western Union in India for Mobile Money Transfer, but the opportunity remains: Western Union is one of the largest money transfer companies in the world, and India is one of the largest receivers of money transfers. And once integrated, an operators customers will be be integrated with Western Union’s core transaction processing system, which covers a network of more than 350,000 Agent locations in over 200 countries and territories.

The certification is likely to offer these vendors an advantage in offering money transfer services to telecom operators that Western Union has signed up with. Comviva has significant operations Africa, and hence a larger playing field; they also have a mobile money transfer solution called mobiquity for cash deposit and disbursal, money transfer and mobile payments.


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