Smart & Etisalat to develop mobile remittance service in UAE


MANILA, Philippines — Local mobile operator Smart Communications and Etisalat, a wireless provider based in the United Arab Emirates, have agreed to jointly develop a mobile remittance service initially targeting Filipino subscribers in the UAE, the company said.

The deal was sealed during the GITEX Technology Week, an international technology trade exhibition held in Dubai.

"There was investment on our part but we cannot disclose at this time. There were certain IT equipment installations done," said Ramon Isberto, head of public affairs of Smart Communications, in a telephone interview.

Isberto said this is the second partnership it forged with a foreign telecommunications company. The first was with MTC Vodafone in Bahrain.

"We're hoping that with the introduction of these services, we expect the volume of remittances overseas to increase. Currently, the bulk of mobile remittances are domestic," the Smart executive said.

The UAE is building its service industries and thus it is a "growth area" for Filipino overseas workers, he said.

Under the deal, SMART' will provide its mobile commerce platform, the Smart Services Hub, to enable Etisalat to offer mobile phone-based remittances.

Smart Services Hub is a global financial and telecommunications service based on the Smart Money electronic financial services platform of Smart. Smart Money, on the other hand, is an electronic wallet card linked to a mobile phone.

Smart said the remittance service will be offered initially in the UAE and later rolled out to other Etisalat service areas such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and to Etisalat's West African subsidiaries under the Atlantique Group.

"They are bringing it to other subsidiaries, which is serving other nationals," Isberto said.

The remittance service will allow subscribers to send funds back home anytime, anywhere using their mobile phones. It will also allow tracking of transactions.

"Migrant remittance is an important source of income for many countries around the world. As the leading operator of the UAE, a nation that plays host to nearly 200 different nationalities, we are confident that the service will revolutionize the entire remittance process for expatriates as they send money to their home countries. Our partnership with SMART will enable us to bank on the wealth of experience they bring, and will once again make UAE the first nation in the region to launch this service," said Essa Al Haddad, Chief Marketing Officer of Etisalat, in a statement.

Etisalat is a telecommunications service provider in the UAE that offers both fixed and mobile phone services. It currently has more than 4.5 million subscribers as of 2005.

"Through our mobile commerce platform, Etisalat will be able to offer SIM-based services that allow mobile phone users to send money to their beneficiaries via a few simple clicks on their handsets," added Danilo J. Mojica, Head of SMART Wireless Consumer Division, in a statement.

Smart Communications has currently 27.1 million subscribers on its GSM network as of June 2007.


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