Investing in South Africa


Absa, Western Union offer cash transfers

15 October 2008

South Africa's largest retail bank, Absa, has partnered with Western Union to roll out the US financial services company's money transfer services in selected Absa branches countrywide this month.

The joint venture, which follows the successful opening of pilot locations in Gauteng province during September, has been approved by the South African Reserve Bank and complies with all appropriate South African banking regulations.

"The integration of the Western Union Money Transfer services into our retail banking environment allows Absa to offer a new and much-needed cross-border service to our existing customers, while at the same time attracting a new customer segment," Absa CEO Steve Booysen said in a statement this week.

The number of Absa locations offering the Western Union Money Transfer service in South Africa is expected to climb to over 200 during the next 12 months, making it easier for consumers around the globe to send and receive money internationally.

"We are very pleased about our agreement with Absa and delighted that this will bring even greater convenience to our South African customers around the globe," said Western Union CEO Christina Gold.

'Diaspora remittances'

"Diaspora remittances" have, over the last decade, become very important for the role they play not only in the lives of individuals but also in developing economies.

According to the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development, remittances in Africa alone are approaching US$40-billion (about R354-billion) a year, with 70% of flows into Africa coming through formal money transfer organisations.

"We are proud to offer our service in South Africa," Gold said. "As more and more people seek employment outside of their country of birth in order to better their personal economic situations, money transfer as a means of sending money home represents a significant economic opportunity both for the families on the receiving side as well as the economies of the countries in which they live."

Booysen said the venture was another innovative solution that the bank could now offer its customers, following the introduction of Absa's CashSend service, which allows customers to send money to others even if the recipient does not have a bank account.

"I believe that the international Western Union Money Transfer service is another offer of choice we are providing our customers in a bouquet of services adding value," he said.

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