UK-based telecom giant, Orange and the French banking group, BNP Paribas have teamed up to roll out mobile money services for Africans, joining the growing pool of mobile money providers and reaffirming the increasing prominence the innovative service is taking in the continent’s financial sector.

This new service is available starting today in Côte d’Ivoire and will be extended to other countries in which BNP Paribas and Orange Money are present, particularly Senegal.

The service allows customers of the BNP Paribas group (BICICI in Côte d’Ivoire) to carry out real-time banking operations without going to their banks, simply by using their Orange Money account.

This flexibility in transferring money between bank accounts and mobile accounts will make it easier to use the services already offered by Orange Money, such as payment for goods and services (water, electricity and television bills, etc.) and purchases of airtime credit.

“Orange Money and BNP Paribas are joining forces to deploy Orange Money services to banking customers in their common sales territories in Africa,” says Thierry Millet, Director of the Payments and Contactless Programme at Orange.

Through the new partnership, Orange Money and BNP Paribas pledge to increase the percentage of the population holding bank accounts by offering a fast, secure and reliable service for managing all daily banking operations.

Orange Money currently has more than 10 million customers in 13 countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Mobile money has become increasingly popular in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in the last half decade, with the emergence of a new IT age, fostered by a rapid mobile penetration which currently stands at 84 percent and a smartphone proliferation still at 16 percent.

Countries such as Kenya and Tanzania have incorporated mobile money into key areas of financial transactions, fostering an even greater inclusive participation from rural dweller who lack the basic skill sets to manage a proper banking account. Through the help of mobile money services including Safaricom’s M-Pesa, funds transfer between rural and urban settlements have surged beyond 50 percent, confirming the dire need for more countries to ensure the service is a mainstay in financial activities.

Nigeria has also seen a rapid growth in this sector, with over 18 mobile service providers launched in the last 5 years, providing services for more than 5 million people. The recent cashless policy initiative launched by the country’s Central Bank, which aims to curb hard currency transactions, has further encouraged patronage of alternative financial solutions and one prominent benefactor has been the mobile money service.

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