There are an estimated 690 million people who use mobile financial services across the world, over 100 million of whom live in Africa

International telcos Orange and MTN Group have launched a new mobile money joint venture in Africa, according to a company release.

Mowali will enable interoperable mobile payments across the entire continent of Africa, essentially making it possible for users to transfer money via their mobile phones, regardless of the service provider they use.

"By providing full interoperability between platforms, Mowali will provide an important step forward that will allow mobile money to become a universal means of payment in Africa. Increasing financial inclusion through the use of digital technology is an essential element in furthering the economic development of Africa, particularly for more isolated communities. This solution embodies Orange’s ambition to be a leading player in the digital transformation of the continent. By joining forces with another of Africa’s market leaders, MTN, we aim to accelerate the pace of this transformation in a way that will change the lives of our customers by providing them with simpler, safer and more advantageous services," said Stéphane Richard, chairman and CEO of Orange.

Mowali will immediately benefit from the huge reach of Orange’s and MTN’s networks in Africa, who serve 100 million mobile money customers in 22 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.   

Earlier this week, the GSMA’s director general said that mobile financial services were a crucial weapon in the fight against global poverty.

Speaking exclusively at Huawei’s Global Mobile Broadband Forum in London, Mats Granyrd said that currently "mobile financial services are helping to lift nearly 700 million of the world’s poorest people out of poverty."

Granyrd hailed the arrival of Mowali, saying that it would simplify the financial lives of millions of people in Africa.

"The creation of Mowali will help to further transform mobile financial services throughout the African region. It demonstrates the mobile industry’s continued leadership and commitment to driving financial inclusion and economic empowerment through industry collaboration. The GSMA is proud to support its development,” he said later at a press event for Mowali.

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