Bharti Airtel, a leading global telecommunications services provider with operations in 20 countries across Africa and Asia, has today announced the launch of a cross-border money transfer service for Airtel Money customers in Niger, a first for Niger.

Niger will join three other African countries – the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zambia and Rwanda – where Airtel Money customers can transfer cash, facilitate remittances and affordably conduct regional trade through a ubiquitous distribution network. Already, Airtel Money has over 37,000 active Airtel Money agents and over 10 million registered customers across the four countries to support the money transfer service.

In addition to these countries, mobile money customers in Ivory Coast and Benin will also be able to send money to and from Niger through a collaborative partnership between Airtel and MTN.

Commenting on the development, Airtel Africa Chief Executive Officer Mr. Christian de Faria said: “This offering will raise the level of convenience in cross-border payments across the four countries with a wide Airtel Money agency network and a highly competitive fee structure. This will facilitate remittances and trade across the region.”

Mr. de Faria commended the central bank in Niger for its unwavering support for this initiative and commitment towards ensuring the long term success of the service.

“We are committed to deepening financial inclusion, creating cashless ecosystems and regional integration in Sub-Saharan Africa. Airtel Money offers a secure, cost effective and quick way of helping the communities enhance both trade and personal financial transactions,” he concluded.

The average fee to remit money in Africa is the highest of any region in the world; it is cited by the ODI (Overseas Development Institute) as lying anywhere between 12%-20%. The World Bank recently reported that an additional $4 billion could go into the hands of Africans if international remittance fees fell to 5% (G8 average) , thereby adding further to the positive social and economic impact of remittances as a source of income.

With over 36 million customer wallets in 17 countries, Airtel Money is at the forefront of efforts to create entire cashless payments ecosystems, deepen financial inclusion and reduce transaction costs across Africa.