Mobile money crosses borders: New remittance models in West Africa

Categories : Customer and Users of Digital Payments, International Remittances


Author: GSMA

A promising new model is emerging for cross-border remittances with mobile money as both the sending and the receiving channel. This paper from the GSMA draws commercial insights from two early examples in the West African Economic Monetary Union (WAEMU), where member states are socio-economically integrated and adoption of mobile money has been rapid in recent years. These factors make the region a natural starting point for this model.

  • Orange Money International Transfer, which links up Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Senegal. This is the first example of mobile money transfers between three markets, enabling six distinct remittance corridors, including one of the largest flows in Sub-Saharan Africa: Côte d’Ivoire to Mali. It is also an example of ‘intragroup’, in-house implementation. A year and a half after launch, the paper looks at the adoption of the service to better understand the use cases driving transaction volumes.
  • MTN Mobile Money in Côte d’Ivoire to Airtel Money in Burkina Faso. This was the first case of two operators from separate groups agreeing to interoperate their mobile money services to facilitate crossborder transfers. With a growing number of operators considering a similar model, the MTN-Airtel crossborder service highlights both the opportunities and challenges of the partnership approach. It is also an example of a more complex implementation involving an intermediary hub.