Airtel, Western Union in Mobile Cash Transfer Deal

Wednesday, December 19, 2007 Labels:
In a first-of-its-kind agreement, Bharti Airtel and Western Union have decided to jointly develop and pilot a Mobile Money Transfer service in India. This pioneering agreement will usher in the possibility of sending money to India via a mobile phone. The Mobile Money Transfer service is subject to regulatory approval.

According to The World Bank, the number of migrants globally is 200 million - approximately three percent of the world's population. The World Bank also identifies India as the number one remittance recipient market. Statistics from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) suggest that the inward annual remittance into India stood at over $26 billion for the fiscal year 2006 - 2007, accounting for approximately 10 percent of the global inward remittance market.(1)

"We are delighted to work with Western Union in this path-breaking initiative and be at the forefront of enabling international remittance over mobile for our 50 million mobile phone customers in India. This will help us move money via mobile in a fast and convenient way, supporting low-value transactions," said Mr. Gopal Vittal, director marketing and communications, Bharti Airtel Limited.

Bharti Airtel has an extensive footprint across India and Western Union, together with its affiliates Orlandi Valuta and Vigo, has more than 320,000 Agent locations in more than 200 countries and territories. In India, Western Union operates through 45,000 Agent locations, including 8,500 post offices and more than 14,000 bank branches across 5,000 towns and cities. This program will enable Indians living abroad to send remittances to their families in India in an easy and convenient fashion through the vast networks of both companies.

"Our association with Bharti Airtel for the Mobile Money Transfer service is an important step in expanding the range of Western Union(R) global services to a new category of consumers across the world," said Matt Dill, General Manager, Western Union Mobile. "This is a very exciting development, especially given the expanse and reach of mobile services in the Indian subcontinent."

The reach and accessibility of mobile networks in developing economies create new opportunities to extend the benefits of financial services to many families for the first time.

Mobile networks now cover the majority of the world's population.(2) Applications that allow a mobile subscriber to view and manage funds on their handsets are emerging in select countries as a foundation for phone-based financial services.

The relationship with Bharti Airtel follows a landmark agreement between Western Union and the GSM Association (GSMA), a global trade association representing over 700 GSM mobile phone operators, to facilitate the development of cross-border mobile money transfer services. Bharti Airtel chairs the steering committee of the GSMA's Mobile Money Transfer program. Thirty-five mobile networks operators are participating in the program, which is designed to stimulate the development, trials and commercialization of mobile remittance services.

(1) Source: RBI

(2) Source: GSMA

About Bharti Airtel Limited

Bharti Airtel Limited, a group company of Bharti Enterprises, is India's leading integrated telecom services provider with an aggregate of 53 million customers as of the end of October 2007, consisting of 50.9 million mobile customers. Bharti Airtel has been rated among the best performing companies in the world in the BusinessWeek IT 100 list in 2007.

Bharti Airtel is structured into three strategic business units: Mobile services, Telemedia services and Enterprise services. The mobile business provides mobile and fixed wireless services using GSM technology across 23 telecom circles. The Telemedia business provides broadband and telephone services in 94 cities and is foraying into the IPTV and DTH segments. The Enterprise services provide end-to-end telecom solutions to corporate customers and national and international long distance services to carriers. All these services are provided under the Airtel brand. Airtel's high-speed optic fiber network currently spans over 55,000 kms covering all the major cities in the country. The company has two international landing stations in Chennai that connects two submarine cable systems - i2i to Singapore and SEA-ME-WE-4 to Europe. For more information, visit

About Western Union

The Western Union Company (NYSE:WU) is a leader in global money transfer services. Together with its affiliates, Orlandi Valuta, Vigo and Pago Facil, Western Union provides consumers with fast, reliable and convenient ways to send and receive money around the world, as well as send payments and purchase money orders. It operates through a network of more than 320,000 Agent locations in over 200 countries and territories. Famous for its pioneering telegraph services, the original Western Union dates back to 1851. For more information, visit


SOURCE: The Western Union Company
The Western Union Company
Anja Reitermann, +33-49-35-82-815
Daniel Diaz, +1-720-332-5564

Copyright Business Wire 2007

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