MoneyGram, the Dallas based giant money transfer company is deepening its reach in Africa after signing a partnership with Airtel Africa that will see the mobile phone company’s customers 19 million customers receive transfers directly into their mobile wallets. Airtel Africa operates in 14 African countries and has 19 million customers.
According to the World Bank, African diaspora remittances to Africa in 2019 totaled $48 billion with Nigeria the largest recipient of remittance flows at $23.8 billion, followed by Ghana, which received $3.5 billion, and Kenya third at $2.8 billion. The World Bank in numbers it provided to Mshale forecasts an over 23% drop in remittances to Africa due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This partnership with Airtel will enable millions of consumers instant access to our global platform to receive money from over 200 countries & territories without having to even step outside,” said John Gely, Head of MoneyGram Africa in a statement.
Airtel Africa CEO, Raghunath Mandava, said of the new partnership, “This is a significant step forward in our ambition to transform lives through greater financial inclusion and empowerment across the continent. Maximizing access to global remittances is a key part of this – even more so given the disruption and economic hardship faced by many as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Earlier this year, MoneyGram’s larger competitor Western Union offered it an acquisition deal that has yet to materialize. Such a merger would raise antitrust concerns by US authorities, some experts say.