MTN and Orange have launched a pan-African mobile money interoperability service. Called Mowali, the service will enable interoperable payments across the continent.
"Mowali makes it possible to send money between mobile money accounts issued by any mobile money provider, in real time and at low cost," reads part of the press release.
Mowali will immediately benefit from the reach of MTN Mobile Money and Orange Money. Bringing together over 100 million mobile money accounts and mobile money operations in 22 of sub-Saharan Africa’s 46 markets.
Interestingly, MTN has also announced that they will be reviving the mobile money service in South Africa. Additionally, they are set to apply for a mobile money licence in Nigeria. This will further grow the reach that the service can tap into.
The aim of Mowali is to increase the usage of mobile money by consumers and merchants. But, enabling the sending and receiving of money across borders also means solving the remittance problem.
Africa has the most expensive money remittance corridor in the world. According to Send Money Africa, sending money across Africa is almost twice as it is to send to Africa. Stating that “the top 10 most expensive corridors are intra-African.”
While as it costs 9.1% to send money to Africa as of 2017 Q3, according to the World Bank, the cost of remitting money between South Africa and Botswana stood at 19.86% in Q4 of 2016 according to Send Money Africa. Making it the most expensive corridor in the world.
"It functions as an industry utility, open to any mobile money provider in Africa, including banks, money transfer operators and other financial service providers."
As the epicentre of mobile money growth, there are a plethora of other services operating mobile money services in Africa including Safaricom's M-Pesa, Tigo Cash or Tigo Pesa, Vodafone Cash, and Airtel Money. This, therefore, will be possible because having the two telecoms work together is the beginning.
"Mowali is ready to enable interoperability between digital financial service providers beyond MTN and Orange operations and markets," the two pointed out. Adding that they hope the service to "support the existing 338 million mobile money accounts in Africa."
By bringing other telecoms on board, the service will do to mobile what Mastercard and Visa have done to the banking. Therefore, both MTN and Orange are anticipating that other telecoms will come on board.
Though, unlike VISA and Mastercard, Mowali will transcend telecoms. The service will also include banks and other financial service providers.
In Africa, the line between a telecom and a bank is becoming blurred each day. The two industries are working closer than ever before. This is to ensure they can deliver their respective service and products seamlessly.
For example, this week, Standard Bank launched its mobile communication services using Cell C’s network in South Africa.