Ericsson and Western Union on Monday announced a strategic alliance to enable mobile operators to bring financial services to the world's unbanked people via mobile phones.
The first step of the agreement, which Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg announced during a press conference at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, is to integrate Western Union's Mobile Money Transfer Network and Ericsson's suite of m-commerce solutions so cellcos can speed up the launch of mobile financial services.
Vestberg said that mobile transactions are expected to reach $800 billion by 2016.
Western Union CMO Diane Scott said that more than two billion people have little or no access to financial services. "This strategic partnership is the start to connecting the mobile commerce ecosystem to the traditional financial services world, which is a critical step."
Scott said Western Union aims to leverage its network of 500,000 locations across 200 counties not just via retail and the internet but using mobile phones. "By partnering with Ericsson we have the opportunity to make it a lot easier and quicker for mobile operators to integrate and get access to these services."
Ericsson VP for m-commerce Lars Arvidsson told Telecomasia.net that the dialog with Western Union started in Q3 last year and now it's working on certifying and validating the connectivity between the different solutions, and the long-term objective is to offer as a turnkey solution to service providers.
Arvidsson said it will offer one thing in Africa, another in the Middle East and a third in Latin America because the markets are different due to regulations. "We still working on whether it will be more of a banking solution, a remittance kind of offering or a payment solution."
Ericsson's m-commerce suite includes its Converged Wallet, Wallet Platform and M-Commerce Interconnect.