Vodafone plans mobile money

Published on 18 February, 2007. By John Reynolds

MOBILE phone operator Vodafone and global banking giant Citigroup will team up to trial a mobile money transfer system among Ireland’s Polish community later this year.

The service will allow customers to transfer money home at the touch of a button on their mobile phone. It will initially roll out to the 100,000-strong Polish customer base on Vodafone’s Irish network, a spokeswoman revealed. If successful, it will be available to 400,000 resident non-nationals from Asia, Eastern Europe and South America.

Western Union last year estimated that migrants had sent home more than €340m – mainly to Eastern Europe – from Ireland. Poland accounted for about half of that figure, while AIB recorded 60,000 money transfers to Poland in 2005.

The Irish trial will build upon the launch of Vodafone’s successful M-PESA mobile money transfer service by its affiliate, Safaricom in Kenya. As well as changing the way Kenyans do business in a country where there are 8m mobiles and few landlines, mobile money transfers also enable people to bypass its bureaucratic banking system.

Vodafone estimates $93bn is sent home by migrants around the world each year to developing countries and along with Citigroup it is eyeing up a growing market and a welcome source of extra revenue.

Mobile payments have had less of an impact here. Airport coach operator Aircoach has adopted them, for example, while London nightclub The Ministry of Sound sends entry barcodes to VIPs’ handsets and allows other guests to pay entrance fees with their mobiles.

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