Etisalat launch remittance services to India

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Etisalat has announced a partnership with Citibank allowing Indian expatriates living in the UAE to send money home using their mobile phone – The National reports.

The UAE telecom provider has set up the programme and plans to expand the service to Bangladesh, Pakistan and Egypt in the coming months, the newspaper says, citing Essa al Haddad, the group CMO of Etisalat. ‘We are making it available for our Indian subcontinent customers to send money to their relatives in India,’ Mr al Haddad said.

The service, which will be available later this month, will work with basic mobile phones. Etisalat did not say how much it would cost. The move could threaten the hold of currency exchange houses over the $10 billion remittance business. Roughly $52 billion in remittances were transferred to India in 2008 from expatriates working across the Gulf, according to the World Bank. The UAE represents about 13% of total remittances to India.

Etisalat began mobile remittance trials to India and the Philippines last year with several banking partners before finalising a deal with Citibank. ‘The conventional revenue streams that many telecom operators have enjoyed will drastically decline over the next three to five years,’ al Haddad said. ‘Now you’ll see telecoms getting involved in the financial side of business.’