Dubai: etisalat is poised to start offering mobile remittance services in June this year, a move that promises to help millions of expatriates send money in seconds instead of queueing at the exchange houses every month.
etisalat officials on Tuesday said it has started the mobile remittance pilot project to India in partnership with mashreq, Tata Communications, Idea Cellular and HSBC India.
It expects 350,000 users to avail the services next three years. Nearly 80 per cent of the UAE’s more than five million population are expatriates, the majority of whom remit money regularly.
Formal remittance flow in 2005 crossed $7 billion (Dh25 billion), making the UAE the second-largest remittance source in the Gulf after Saudi Arabia.
The company emphasised on micro transactions, which usually take place through unofficial channels. “Mobile money transfer will be a viable service for low-value transactions,” said Abdullah Hashim, vice-president, marketing, enterprise solutions, etisalat. “This service is modelled over existing remittance flows,” he added.
Registered users of the mobile money transfer service will be able to access it abroad through etisalat roaming service.
Officials, however, could not give any indication of the cost of this services. Electronic remittance service charges starts from Dh3 onwards.
The company said on Tuesday that it has no plans to compete with money exchanges but rather will complement them. In addition, the company intends to partner with such organisations in the future.
The new service designed to be cost-effective, convenient and secure will have low transaction costs. The pilot project will allow for feedback to develop the service features and pricing.
“In the current phase, selected participants of the pilot project will be able to transfer funds to over 40,000 bank branches in India,” said Hashim.
etisalat is working closely with leading banks, financial institutions and telecom operators in other countries to offer a comprehensive network of partners for the service. It is expected that etisalat customers in the UAE will have the first opportunity to use this service to send money to various countries including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines Egypt, Jordan, Sri-Lanka, and Nepal.
The telecom operator plans to extend the service three more countries by the end of the year. In addition, the company is in the process of launching mobile banking, parking, ticketing, government payments and purchases in the UAE.
A mobile wallet (mwallet) will be provided when users register with the mobile money transfer service. The mwallet will act like a traditional wallet.
“The service enables to add value [credit] in the mwallet which can then be used for remittance,” said Amol Natu, manager, product marketing ebusiness. The company said yesterday that it is also working on salary transfer option based on mobile wallet offering.