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Orange partners with Bank of Africa to offer new mobile banking services

Out-Law News | 18 Sep 2014 | 3:00 pm | 2 min. read

Users of Orange's mobile money services in Africa will be able to user their mobile phones to withdraw cash from their Bank of Africa bank accounts "in the coming months", the French telecoms company has announced.

The new partnership will allow customers of the two companies to transfer funds between their bank and Orange Money accounts, and to pay for goods and services and purchase airtime credit without going to the bank or the shop. They will also be able to withdraw cash from a "large network" of Orange Money distributors, as well as 450 Bank of Africa branches across sub-Saharan Africa.

"The partnership between Orange and Bank of Africa illustrates Orange's ambition to offer its customers high-quality services that are both easily accessible and easy to use," said Marc Rennard, Orange's senior executive vice president for Africa, the Middle East and Asia. "Our respective businesses complement each other making it easier for customers to manage their money using their mobile, wherever they are in the country and at any time of the day."

The new service is already available to Orange Money and Bank of Africa customers in Madagascar, and will be extended to those in the Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Senegal, Niger and the Democratic Republic of the Congo shortly. Orange Money currently has more than 11 million customers in 14 countries in Africa and the Middle East.

According to a survey published by Swedish technology company Ericsson earlier this year, digital technology is "fast becoming a part of everyday life" in sub-Saharan Africa while total mobile subscriptions are rapidly catching up with those globally. The region's mobile data traffic is predicted to grow around 20 times between the end of 2013 and the end of 2019, by which time Ericsson has predicted that there will be around 930 million mobile subscriptions in the region.

Mobile banking is among increasingly popular services, with 58% of mobile users in the region showing an interest in using mobile banking and mobile wallets in future, according to the Ericsson survey. In Kenya, Vodafone's M-Pesa mobile payments service has contributed to mobile payments now making up a third of all payments in the country, and the service has since been exported to a number of other countries.

Orange said that its new partnership with Bank of Africa was the "first step in a range of innovative financial services" that the two companies planned to develop.

Telecoms law expert Diane Mullenex of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said that the announcement marked the "latest move" by Orange, a company that had been providing m-payment services in Africa since its early days, to "further grow in a now very competitive market, where major players like M-Pesa are continuously expanding".

"This partnership clearly illustrates Orange's willingness to reach a wider public for its m-payment services," she said. "This would include the population holding bank accounts that had proven to be less convinced by mobile payments services offered by telecom operators. In this respect, a future partnership to be concluded with Ecobank, according to Orange's executive VP Marc Rennard, would further this strategy and give Orange a real advantage in the sub-Saharan region."