Money-transfer firms are looking for new ways to leverage their extensive international networks, with the latest development emerging early Wednesday as MoneyGram international Inc. announced it is opening its system to BOTIM, a voice-over-Internet protocol (VOIP) provider with 90 million users in the Middle East and Africa.
The deal, which Dallas-based MoneyGram concluded with BOTIM’s United Arab Emirates-based parent company, Astra Tech, will enable BOTIM’s users to transmit money globally in near real time, the parties say. The service is expected to begin operating next month for BOTIM users in the UAE.
The deal brings money-transfer capability to a messaging app, the parties say. “Together, we are revolutionizing international money transfers by making it as seamless as sending a text message,” said Abdallah Abu Sheikh, BOTIM’s chief executive and founder of Astra Tech, in a statement. Astra Tech is an investment and technology-development firm.
The connection to messaging also allows MoneyGram to open its network to what Alex Holmes, the network’s chief executive, calls, in a statement, “new use cases” that go beyond standard money-transfer rails. “More and more of the world’s top organizations are now seeking to embed our fintech capabilities into their service offerings,” he added.
In a related development, Mexico-based Grupo Coppel said Tuesday it is expanding its financial-services network to the U.S. market by launching Coppel Access. The new service’s chief product is a mobile wallet that will let U.S. users open an account that is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Users can deploy either a Mexican or U.S identification credential. While the wallet is aimed at Mexican nationals residing in the United States, it is open to any consumer.
Once created, the wallet will let users apply a physical or virtual debit card for shopping online and on digital platforms, as well as for peer-to-peer payments, says Grupo Coppel, said to be the operator of the largest department-store chain in Mexico. The company is also the country’s sixth-largest banking network. The underlying accounts are FDIC-insured through Community Federal Savings Bank. Transfers are processed by Appriza Pay, an 8-year-old cross-border payments provider and a U.S. affiliate of the Coppel Group.
The wallet app can be downloaded on both Apple and Android devices, Grupo Coppel says, from the App Store and Google Play