Over 1.75 million Indian nationals living in the UAE will find it easier to send money home using their mobile phones, with the Emirates' leading telecom company set to enter the $10 billion remittance market with a new service.
UAE's leading telecom services provider, Etisalat, has partnered with Citibank to start the programme in India and plans to expand it to Bangladesh, Pakistan and Egypt in the coming months, the group's chief marketing officer, Essa al Haddad, was quoted by the local media as saying.
"We are making it available for our Indian customers to send money to their relatives in India," al Haddad said.
The service, which will be available later this month, will work with all types of mobile phones.
Etisalat, however, did not say how much it would cost.
The media reports said that the service could, however, threaten the hold of currency exchange houses on the USD 10 billion remittance business.
At least USD 52 billion in remittances were sent to India in 2008 by expatriates working across the Gulf, according to World Bank data, with the UAE representing about 13 per cent of the total remittances to India.
"With something like this it will be much easier to send money back to India," said 32-year-old Imthiaz Abbas, a showroom manager in Dubai Festival City.
"Direct remittance on the mobile will be much faster than to come to a retail exchange store," he said.