GSMA, MasterCard to simplify global money transfers

New project uses mobile technology to help migrant workers send money to sectors that lack access to traditional financial services infrastructure.
Written by Farihan Bahrin, Contributor

The GSM Association (GSMA) is working with MasterCard to trial a new mobile payment service aimed at helping migrant workers from "underbanked" communities transfer money to their home countries easily and securely.

In a statement issued Monday, the GSM Association (GSMA) said that it will be tapping on MasterCard's mobile payments platform and the extensive reach of mobile networks to help those who lack access to traditional financial services infrastructure such as ATMs and banks.

The six-month pilot, both at a local and regional level, will involve MasterCard's Money Send platform and mobile phone operators who are members of the GSMA. The GSMA, a global trade association, represents more than 700 mobile phone operators worldwide.

Under the agreement, said the GSMA, MasterCard will provide various payment card products as well as the international transaction switching, clearing and settlement for its Money Send platform via its single, globally integrated network. According to MasterCard, its global processing platform can process transactions in 210 countries in 160 different currencies.

The mobile payment application will allow receiving parties to check the status of transactions using their mobile phones, the card company said. Fund receivers will be informed via a text message sent over the mobile networks after which, they can access the transferred funds via MasterCard debit and prepaid payment products issued by local banks.

The GSMA stated that the specific technologies needed to enable such transfers will be tailored to the individual needs of each pilot market, in conjunction with participating GSMA member operators and financial institution partners.

According to the World Bank, the global annual volume of international remittances via formal channels was estimated at US$257 billion in 2005.

The GSMA said it believes the program could help double the number of recipients of international remittances to more than 1.5 billion, while helping to quadruple the size of the international remittances market to more than US$1 trillion by 2012.

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