Payment news, June 1

Visa and Monitise agree to build a mobile payments platform in India, while the Philippines moves closer to a central remittance processing platform.

Visa and Monitise announce partnership in India

Visa and mobile financial services developer Monitise have partnered to create a technology platform that allows financial institutions and mobile network operators in India to offer a range of mobile financial services to their customers.

"Creating this joint venture is a crucial step in the acceptance of digital currency in India and will enable the migration of $700 billion of annual consumer spending from cash to electronic forms of payments," said Elizabeth Buse, group executive of Visa International, in a statement. "Together, Visa and Monitise can provide banks and mobile network operators in India the scale, security and reliability required to make mobile money a reality for customers." According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, India is the world's second largest mobile phone market with 584 million subscribers.

Mobile payments are growing rapidly in India. Third-party financial services provider Eko already provides services throughout the country's rural areas and treasurers are beginning to use it for low-value collections or salary disbursement. The partnership between Visa and Monitise is expected to be finalised this month.

JBIC signs MOU with Afreximbank

The Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to aid trade between Japan and Africa as well as provide financing for Japanese companies investing on the continent. It was signed at the annual meeting of the African Development Bank last month.

The MOU follows a number of other trade and investment promotion activities at JBIC. It signed an agreement with the National Bank for Foreign Economic Activity of the Republic of Uzbekistan to investigate investment opportunities for Japanese companies in the country last month and a loan facility with Malaysia's CIMB Group in April.

PhilPaSS remittance settlement to be fully operational

The central bank of the Philippines has announced that the Philippine Payments and Settlements Systems (PhilPaSS) remittance system will be fully operational by the third quarter. A joint project between the central bank and the Association of Bank Remittance Officers, the system is a local clearing house for all remittance transfers into and out of the country. It has been in development since 2008.

PhilPaSS is designed to reduce the cost of remitting money between overseas Filipinos and their beneficiaries. Currently beneficiaries pay between Ps150 ($3.20) and Ps550 per transaction, but with the new system this will fall to just Ps50. According to central bank, the PhilPaSS system "ensures safer, faster and cheaper means of remittance transactions". 

PMC Treasury officially opens in Hong Kong

Management consultancy PMC Treasury has officially opened its Hong Kong office with Mark Bobek serving as Asia-Pacific managing director. The new office will complement the firm's existing London and New York offices, allowing it to provide better transaction and operations treasury consulting services to customers in the Asia-Pacific region.

"The increasing economic importance of the region to PMC's existing client base makes a presence there essential," said Michael Pearce, founder and managing director of PMC Treasury, in an April interview. "Additionally and importantly, as new external capital is sought by companies in the region, so will the suppliers of capital want to know that companies have access to world-class corporate treasury advice."

Western Union transfer services to be expanded in Philippines

Western Union and the Philippine National Bank (PNB) have announced an alliance to expand the money transfer provider's services to 311 PNB branches throughout the Philippines by July. Once completed, the bank will gradually roll out services to its 87 Asia-Pacific offices outside the Philippines, including Guam, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore.

"[The alliance] gives our consumers, especially Filipinos, the added comfort of familiarity of a home-grown bank to go with Western Union's values of convenience, reliability and speed when sending money to family and loved ones," said Eugene Acevedo, president and chief executive of PNB, in a statement. "Our agreement with Western Union strengthens PNB as the bank of choice for both our local and global customers as we continually enhance the portfolio of financial services offered to our variety of customers."

Western Union has a global network of 420,000 agent locations in more than 200 countries. In the Philippines, PNB's branches will supplement the transfer provider's existing network of 6,800 agent locations.

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