Western Union, Afghan Roshan eye mobile money transfer

DUBAI Mon Feb 27, 2012 8:41am EST

DUBAI Feb 27 (Reuters) - Afghan telecoms operator Roshan has teamed up with Western Union Co to enable subscribers to receive remittances from abroad on their mobile phones, a joint statement said.

About 1.2 million of Roshan's 5.8 million mobile subscribers are already registered with its mobile payment portal, M-Paisa, which was developed by Vodafone.

Roshan - 51 percent owned by the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, 36.75 percent by Cable & Wireless Communications Plc and 12.25 percent by Swedish group TeliaSonera - estimates about 97 percent on Afghanistan's population do not have access to traditional financial services.

M-Paisa is a virtual bank account embedded into a SIM card that is accessed via a password and many users now receive their salary via SMS.

"It's like an ATM card," Altaf Ladak, Roshan chief operating officer, told Reuters.

"A lot of people, such as policemen, may be working in one area, but their family is somewhere else. Now they can transfer their money directly.

"What drove us to do M-Paisa was the social angle, helping the country, which had a lack of infrastructure, and people who don't trust the banking system who are now getting used to this for salaries and payments."

Last week, Roshan told Reuters it expects to maintain double-digit revenue growth for at least the next two years as demand for data among the country's young and increasingly urbanised population surges. (Reporting by Matt Smith; editing by Firouz Sedarat)

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