More than 100 million mobile phone users worldwide will use their handset to make international money transfers by 2013, according to research released this week.

Although cross border mobile money transfers are currently in their infancy, analysts at Juniper Research expect the market to gain significant traction over the next two to three years, especially on migration routes such as Philippines/Middle East and Mexico/USA.

In fact the top three regions – Western Europe, North America and Africa & the Middle East – are forecast to represent over 75 per cent of the global international mobile money transfer gross transaction value by 2013.

As a result of this growth, the analyst predicts a $5bn opportunity (by 2013) for mobile money transfer service providers and vendors, for both national services between mobile users in a single country and internationally.

Juniper analyst Howard Wilcox said that mobile money transfer is expected to transform the ability of the ‘underbanked’ population and migrant workers to make remittances, using their mobile phones as mobile wallets.

“The vast increase in migrant workers globally has fuelled the number of remittances being sent home to friends and families regularly. The mobile phone will become a vital enabler in developing countries because often many more people have phones than have bank accounts,” said Wilcox.