Qtel plans 2010 launch of mobile remittances
Remittances, mobile payments and cross-border mobile recharging part of Qatar-based operator's three pronged mobile money proposition
Mobile World Congress, Barcelona: Qtel today announced that it will launch a mobile remittance service this year across the operators in the group.
Dr Nasser Marafih, Qtel CEO, said that the group's geographical spread of 17 operators across the Middle East, North Africa and Asia - including the Philippines, Indonesia and Pakistan- meant it was "uniquely" placed to offer the service.
According to the Qatar-based operator, global remittances in 2008 stood at some US$401 billion, and by 2010 it says that figure will be over $500 billion. Qtel also cited the "millions of dollars" remitted from the Gulf region to Asian countries every year by expatriate workers as a reason to be confident that its mobile remittance scheme will be a success.
As part of a three-pronged mobile money proposition, Qtel is also working towards launching cross-border mobile top-up for its customers travelling abroad, along with a
scheme to launch mobile payments. Both services are expected to be launched after the mobile remittance operation is up and running.
"We will focus on remittances first, and this will happen this year some time," Marafih said, without specifying when the service would launch.
"The technology is not an issue, but we are having discussions with regulators and partners. [Mobile remittance] is not something that hasn't been done before, and we have looked at the existing services in Kenya and the Philipines."
Qtel will no doubt hope that it can benefit to the same extent as Kenyan operator Safaricom, one of the pioneers of mobile money transfers with its 'M-PESA' service that was launched in 2003.
Safaricom has 7.9 million users of its mobile money services from a subscriber base of some 14.5 million, and partly as a result of the use of its mobile money services it says that non-voice revenue increased by 94% in the six months to the third quarter of last year.
Qtel is in discussions with "major banks" in the Middle East, but a spokesman for the operator declined to say which banks it would team up with. The operator is also in talks with central banks as it looks to secure regulatory approval for its offering.