Pan-African fintech firm MFS Africa announced today the connection of Airtel Niger to MFS Africa’s Mobile Money Transfer Hub (MFS Africa Hub). The MFS Africa Hub connects mobile wallet customers across networks and countries in subSaharan Africa, enabling convenient and affordable international money transfer to anyone with a mobile phone.

As of today, Airtel Money customers in Niger will be able to send and receive money to/from MTN Benin and MTN Cote d’Ivoire. The World Bank estimates that Niger receives $32 million and $28 million from Benin and Cote d’Ivoire, respectively, each year – Niger’s second and third largest sources of remittances, after Nigeria. Together, remittances received from the two countries account for nearly 40% of the total $157 million that Niger receives annually. Niger also sends a total of nearly $7 million each year to the two countries.

Airtel Niger is the first Airtel operation to be connected to the MFS Africa Hub, as part of a group framework agreement concluded in May this year between Airtel Africa and MFS Africa. Under the agreement all Airtel operations in Africa will connect to the MFS Africa Hub, which already reaches over 50 million mobile wallet users across Africa through partnerships with MTN, Vodacom, Safaricom, and Orange. The MFS Africa hub is also integrated to a growing number of global money transfer companies, allowing diaspora senders to transfer money to any connected mobile wallet.

Today, money transfers to and within Africa are among the most expensive in the world. The World Bank reports that while the global average cost of international money transfer is 8% of face value, transfers to Africa cost on average 12% and transfers between African countries cost on average 20%.

The potential for savings and impact by reducing this cost cannot be overstated: every year, over $50 billion is sent in remittances to and among countries within MFS Africa’s footprint, over formal and informal channels. Formal channels (banks and traditional money transfer companies) can take days and charge exorbitant fees, while informal money traders and couriers carry high levels of risk and uncertainty. In contrast, money transfers through mobile money are instantaneous, secure, traceable, and dramatically cheaper.

“The MFS Africa Hub has emerged in the past year as a leading mobile money Hub both in terms of footprint and adequacy of the offering to African customers. It is an ideal solution for our over 35 million Airtel Money registered customers to send and receive money across borders within Africa and to receive money from overseas,” said Chidi Okpala, Director, Airtel Money at Airtel Africa.

“We are very pleased to welcome Airtel Money users onto the MFS Africa Hub. Airtel is a major player in the Africa telecommunication space, and we are excited to work with them to open low-cost, convenient mobile remittance corridors,” said Dare Okoudjou, founder and CEO of MFS Africa. “Airtel Money users can now send money to loved ones and business partners in other African countries at a fraction of current costs; this marks a significant step toward our goal of reducing intra-African remittances costs to a single-digit rate.”