UK mobile network operator Orange is to launch an international money transfer service in three West African states; Mali, Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire.

The Orange Money International Service will enable subscribers in these countries to send and receive money using their mobile phones.

To use the service, Orange subscribers dial #144# from their phone, and then enter the recipient’s number and amount to be sent.

The money is sent to the recipient’s Orange account where they can access it immediately to make purchases, payments or transfers. The funds can also be withdrawn at a local Orange Money distributor.

Each year, $260m are moved between Mali, Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire in money transfers.

Director of the strategic NFC and payment programme at Orange Thierry Millet said: "In launching Orange Money International Transfer today, several months of work to simplify life for our customers come to fruition. We are proud to be the first operator to offer customers the ability to make international money transfers between mobile phones in this area of Western Africa."

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Orange says it aims to expand this service to other countries where it is present in the future.

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