Western Union has partnered with eTranzact International, a local Nigerian tech company, to launch mobile money service in Nigeria, according to a report in BusinessDayOnline.
Cross-border remittance payments were estimated to be worth $514 billion world wide in 2012, according to the World Bank.
The new relationship will allow Western Union to increase access points for consumers to use its services world wide and provide mobile solutions for those who choose that method for money transfer transactions, the report said.
Specializing in payments processing in Africa, eTranzact opened in 2003 and has since established operations in Ghana, Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire and the U.K.
Users pay merchant, utility and cable TV bills, top up their mobile phone credits and make third party transfers with the service.
Customers of the eTranzact mobile money platform will now be able to interact with Western Union on their mobile phones, receiving Western Union mobile money transfers from 23 sender countries.
Nigeria has a mobile phone penetration rate of 70.64 percent as of June 2013, according to Informa’s World Cellular Information Service, the report said.
By contrast, just 21 percent of Nigeria’s 162.5 million people own a bank account, according to the World Bank.
Western Union has been critizised in recent years over a perceived lack of security and over-reliance on an agent model, the report said. In response, the company says it aggressively adopted a multi-channel approach.
“We are excited to work with Western Union and leverage the power of their global network on behalf of consumers across Nigeria,” said Valentine Obi, eTranzact CEO. “Our relationship with Western Union will allow for 24/7 access to money transfer transactions.”
Founded as the New-York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company in 1851, Western Union introduced money transfer in 1871. It began providing service to Africa in the 1890s. In Africa, Western Union operates through a network of more than 14,600 agents in 49 countries.