(VOD) - Get Report

plans to announce a partnership Monday with

Western Union

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to allow international money transfers via mobile phones, as the wireless carrier seeks to tap into the increasing flow of cross-border remittances, the

Wall Street Journal


The companies are launching a pilot program that will allow residents of Reading in the U.K. to send money to family members and friends in Kenya, where Vodafone is the 40% owner of local wireless operator Safaricom. If that program is successful, the companies will expand it to other countries, according to the



There is growing interest in using cell phones as a conduit for money transfers, with financial institutions such as


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taking steps into the business, along with Silicon Valley start-up Obopay, the newspaper reports. Wireless carriers in the U.S. and in emerging markets such as India and the Philippines are having some success with programs that let users transfer money domestically via cell phones.

Now U.K.-based Vodafone and other wireless operators have set their sights on cross-border remittances, which are a big contributor to gross domestic product in many emerging markets as workers migrate around the globe but maintain ties to family in their native countries. Most of these transfers are in the range of $300 to $350 and happen a few times a month, but Vodafone wants to encourage much smaller and more frequent money transfers via cell phone, according to the



Vodafone, which owns or has stakes in wireless operators in Africa, the Middle East and India, sees mobile money transfers as an attractive add-on service in markets where users generally just buy prepaid phone minutes, the



This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.com.