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Orange Money triples its customer numbers in Africa

CARTOON
By | November 26th 2011

By Macharia Kamau

France Telecom’s Orange Money has tripled its customer-base in its Africa operations in the past one year. This effectively translates to three million subscribers.

The firm expects further growth, following a recent launch of the service in two new countries – Botswana in partnership with the Standard Chartered Bank and in Cameroon in partnership with BPCE Group.

Orange Money in the country is operated by Telkom Kenya, where France Telecom has a controlling stake.

In a statement on Thursday, the Paris-headquartered company said it planned to expand the money transfer offer in the near future to include the possibility of receiving international money transfers. This will give the firm an opportunity to tap into the lucrative market that Africans in the Diaspora are proving to be.

Kenyans living and working abroad sent home $641 million last year. They have on average been sending $70 million a month this year, easily becoming among the key foreign exchange earners for the country.

"Orange and Western Union, a global leader in international money transfer services, have joined forces to develop a new service, which will enable Orange Money customers to receive transfers directly on their mobile phones via Western Union’s global system," said the statement.

"We are pioneering a full range of ways for our consumers to send and receive money. This alliance will introduce cross-border remittances to an entirely new segment of customers by allowing them to receive money using just their mobile phones."

While tripling its customer base in a year and hitting the three million mark might be a success, the service is yet to make a mark in the Kenya.

The service was launched late last year in partnership with equity bank. Despite what Telkom Kenya says is a superior service offering compared to competition, it is yet to gather a significant customer base especially when compared to Safaricom’s M-Pesa, which is taken as a global pioneer in the mobile money service segment.

Orange Money has been rolled out in Africa and the Middle East, with the company eyeing the huge unbanked population that has access to mobile phones. Mobile penetration in Africa stands at about 60 per cent, while only 10 per cent of population is banked.

The service was first launched in CÙte d’Ivoire in December 2008 but has since spread to Senegal, Madagascar, Mali, Niger and Kenya. It recently was launched in Botswana and Cameroon. Plans are underway for a launch in Mauritius.

"The Group expects success in mobile banking services to accelerate in the coming years in light of the expanding customer base and widespread use of these services on a day-to-day basis," said the France Telecom statement.

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