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MoneyGram launches global mobile money transfer service

MoneyGram International is launching a mobile money transfer service in cooperation with Affinity Global Services to enable global remittances for a new demographic of consumers.

More than 200 million individuals are currently residing outside of their home country, according to the World Bank. With MoneyGram's mobile money transfer services, immigrants from across the worldwide globe will be able to better manage their finances, using their handset.

"Statistics say that 2008 saw over $900 million move through mobile phones," said Tim Summers, vice president and general manager of consumer products for the Americas at MoneyGram, Denver, CO. "By 2011, almost $100 billion could be moving via mobile devices.

"So it's obviously an opportunity we wanted to look at and approach in a thoughtful way, and in a way conducive to what's important to us," he said. "So we are moving in a direction where we continue to do what we do best: move currency."

The services provided by MoneyGram and Affinity Global Services will let consumers leverage MoneyGram's agent network of more than 180,000 locations worldwide to transfer cash to an account associated with a mobile device.

MoneyGram claims that the people in developing economies are more likely to have mobile phones than a traditional bank account, meaning there is a great opportunity to serve these customers through new platforms such as mobile.

Many times, even if consumers in developing countries do have access to a physical agent to receive money transfers, they may not have a bank account.

In fact, many nations are already using mobile phones to make transactions, eliminating the need for a bank account.

"We were looking for a partner that has the expertise to make connections in a way that makes it much more efficient and convenient for the mobile network operators," Mr. Summers said. "Our partnership with Affinity Global Services made a lot of sense for us.

"They certainly have the background," he said. "They are the pioneers in this business.

"Strategy will serve us well as we move into this market in a meaningful way with a partner that will provide us with the expertise we need to be effective in this space."

MoneyGram claims that the partnership will help facilitate its move into new territories such as Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Affinity Global Services is the first company to provide a gateway for MoneyGram's services, equipping MoneyGram with technical connectivity to various wireless carriers.

MoneyGram's mobile money transfer service will work on Affinity Global's MADE platform, which will allow MoneyGram to connect virtually with wireless carriers.

"There are 4 billion mobile devices in use around the globe today," Mr. Summers said. "This really speaks to the ubiquity of mobile phones in the world.

"The opportunity and the challenge it removes is to give the consumer the ability to receive funds in a network that's virtual, because they are already carrying the device with them," he said.

"Instead of picking it up in a physical network, they can request that they load the money to their phone."