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Mobile money services a big hit in Africa

Amid the growing popularity of mobile money services in Africa, Orange said that its own offering has reached three million customers, after tripling its user base in the last year.

Orange Money is designed to meet the needs of customers in Africa and the Middle East, where general figures suggest that less than ten per cent of the population have access to a bank account but more than 60 per cent have a mobile phone. Key services include money transfers, utility payments and top ups and financial services like insurance.

First launched in Côte d’Ivoire in December 2008, Orange Money is also available in Senegal, Madagascar, Mali, Niger and Kenya, as well as in Botswana and Cameroon. It will soon be launched in Mauritius and operates in partnership with banks such as the Standard Chartered Bank and the BICEC group.

This week the group entered into partnership with Western Union with a view to developing the service to allow customers to receive transfers directly on their mobile phones via Western Union’s global system.

Meanwhile in Europe, Spanish carrier Telefónica Digital has announced a pilot program with Research In Motion to roll out Telefónica Wallet for BlackBerry smartphones.

In collaboration with local banks and retailers, the pilot will be deployed to 350 employees at its Telefónica’s headquarters in Spain, allowing users to make payments by tapping their NFC-enabled BlackBerry against a reader.

Julio Linares, COO of Telefónica, said: “We have chosen the BlackBerry solution for this pilot because of the security that the platform brings.” The company said it would be looking to launch the commercial wallet service in several markets next year.

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