Visa, Orange team on mobile payments for emerging markets

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BARCELONA, Spain--France Telecom-Orange is partnering with financial services giant Visa to introduce new payment functionality to Orange Money customers in Africa and the Middle East.

Launched in 2008 and offering payment services to 3.5 million unbanked or financially under-served citizens across eight EMEA countries, Orange Money supports person-to-person transfers, bill payments and agent-based cash-in and cash-out services for loading and withdrawing funds. The addition of the Visa Mobile Prepaid product brings new payment functionality spanning retail and e-commerce transactions, as well as withdrawals from Visa-enabled ATMs; Visa also will supply transaction authorization, clearing and settlement services, and offer security and authentication features as well as fraud monitoring capabilities.

Speaking here at Mobile World Congress 2012, Visa president John Partridge said there are between 20 million and 35 million unbanked mobile subscribers worldwide. "This is not just a business opportunity--it's an opportunity to change the lives of millions of people," Partridge said. "[Sending and receiving payments via mobile] can mean the difference between putting food on the table or their family going hungry."

The VisaNet global payment network is utilized by 2.2 billion account holders, 30 million merchants and provides access to 1.9 million ATMs. The company unveiled Visa Mobile Prepaid last October. Earlier this week, Visa announced an agreement with Vodafone to roll out a Vodafone-branded mobile wallet service based on Visa prepaid accounts and offered to consumers in partnership with Visa Issuers. The service will initially be launched in Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, and the U.K. starting in the coming financial year.

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