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Huawei partners with WorldRemit on African mobile-money service

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Huawei Technologies said it will partner with British money-transfer operator WorldRemit to let African expatriates send cash home to millions of users of the Chinese company's mobile-money service platform.

[JOHANNESBURG] Huawei Technologies said it will partner with British money-transfer operator WorldRemit to let African expatriates send cash home to millions of users of the Chinese company's mobile-money service platform.

The deal will let Huawei and WorldRemit tap into growing demand for remittances from Africans living abroad using mobile-payments services, which are popular in places where banks are scarce or unreliable.

All carriers that are Huawei partners can switch on the service, the two companies said in an emailed statement Tuesday.

As basic phone calls and text messages have increasingly become commoditized, wireless operators in Africa and elsewhere are turning to services such as banking to boost sales and keep customers loyal.

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According to WorldRemit, sub-Saharan Africa remains the most expensive region in the world to send money to and aside from bringing down the costs, digital payments also eliminate the need for the sender to travel to an agent to send funds back to family or friends.

"International remittance is a very important mobile-money service in Africa, and our partnership with WorldRemit will bring the service directly to Huawei's customers across the continent," David Chen, Huawei's vice president for southern Africa, said in the statement.

By accessing WorldRemit's site on any device, customers can send money overseas from bank accounts or using debit and credit cards. For example, using WorldRemit's service to send £500 (S$891.77) from the UK to Tanzania costs £12.99.

Huawei's mobile-money services platform delivers basic banking transactions in developing countries using technology that works on smartphones as well as regular handsets.

Since 2011, the number of people using digital cash on smartphones to collect wages and pay bills has jumped fivefold to more than 500 million accounts in almost 100 nations, according to GSMA, a London-based trade group.

WorldRemit founder and chief executive officer Ismail Ahmed told Bloomberg in April he expects revenues from transactions involving Africans to double by 2020 and that the company will open a regional office in South Africa later this year. Facebook-backer Accel Partners LP invested US$40 million in WorldRemit in 2014.

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