Safaricom formed a partnership with Western Union late last year, allowing customers of Kenya’s biggest mobile operator to facilitate global money transfers and electronically make payments person to person in cash. The deal enabled cross-border money transfers for the company's mobile wallet users, who number approximately 28 million.
M-Pesa, Safaricom’s mobile wallet, already allowed customers to store and send money or make payments locally prior to the partnership, but now customers can send and receive money worldwide through Western Union and to Western Union network of accounts. In the first half of 2018, revenue from Safaricom’s mobile wallet platform rose 18.2% to $349.7 million in the exchange rate at the time of reporting -- about 35.52 billion shillings.
More transactions mean more customer data. Western Union's white-label technology in this partnership enables electronic wallet holders to send money internationally to 500,000 locations, 14 countries and 3 billion bank accounts.
Nidhi Gupta, director of marketing and product partnerships at Western Union, believes the collaboration spurs new possibilities for mobile financial service operators to move money globally, but it does require the company’s analysts to help its customers understand their customers’ behavior.
To support customers like Safaricom, Western Union created a three-pillar data strategy to support Safaricom’s M-PESA customers. Data & Programmatic Insider caught up with Gupta to talk about these types of partnerships and its commitment to support the flow of data. What follows are excerpts of the conversation.
D&PI: How does Western Union analyze the customer behavior of its partners to help them learn more about their customers?
Gupta: Data forms the backbone of our innovative solutions. We use analytics to understand the size of the various markets, the relevant customer base and their needs, as well as the vision and business requirements of the companies that connect to us.
With these insights, our team makes projections and develops models to define the right solution. For instance, some of our offerings are only meant to serve key strategic remittance players that already own an end-to-end retail and/or digital money transfer service.
D&PI: How does Western Union understand the market and partners’ customer base so well as to ensure the investment generates a return for both sides?
Gupta: Jointly, we define a thorough customer journey, by walking in the customer’s shoes, conducting surveys, focus groups or other consumer research, to gather data on voice of the customer.
Safaricom’s M-PESA is used by a large portion of Kenya’s adult population for many of their financial needs. In fact, the wallet did nearly everything but send money worldwide. And with our expertise, we could unlock a global reach for its users with a few swipes.
To succeed in the global person-to-person money transfer industry, a company must be guided by what customers want, which includes supporting a variety of payments cultures and preferences of today’s global money movers, amidst a mix of traditional infrastructure and the prolific adoption of smartphones.
D&PI: How does Western Union focus on the customer feedback once the project gets underway?
Gupta: Once the service is live, we monitor many types of KPIs such as the volume, channels’ cross usage, frequency and other factors. We also rely on product analytics, consumer research, and social listening tools to understand the customer’s feedback.
We then apply what we learn to improve the service features and functions, and to improve the end consumer’s experience.
D&PI: How does all this data help you to expand the mobile and white-label strategy, develop new services, implement the next stages and steps, and what are the next stages and steps?
Gupta: While many of our customers are navigating a digital-first environment, we must recognize that a significant portion of the world’s population is still offline and many have no access to financial services at all.
We are enabling third-party companies to access a global payout network nurtured over decades and expand their businesses. It also gives them immediate reach through Western Union to our network of bank accounts and mobile wallets.