Partnerships between mobile tech companies and financial services providers are all the rage at this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Handset manufacturer Ericsson and money transfer service Western Union joined in and announced they have entered into a strategic agreement aimed at "connecting the m-commerce eco-system and the existing financial world."

According to the announcement, the first step for the two companies is integrating Western Union's Mobile Money Transfer network and the Ericsson suite of m-commerce solutions. The companies said this will let mobile network operators include Western Union Mobile Money Transfers as a part of their mobile financial service offerings.

The expectation of the partners is that by integrating Western Union’s services and Ericsson platforms, MNOs will be able to get mobile financial systems rolled out more quickly and that operators rolling out services using Ericsson's m-commerce solutions can deploy Western Union Mobile Money Transfer services as well.

"With 2012 set to be a year of rapid transition and dynamic change across the m-commerce industry, operators and financial institutions have a chance to evolve their role and meet consumer needs and expectations in new ways," said Ericsson CEO and President Hans Vestberg.

"Our business ambition is to accelerate access and interconnection between the m-commerce eco-system and the existing financial world," Vestberg said. "Through this agreement with Western Union, we are helping mobile network operators and financial institutions get closer to their customers with differentiated wallet services that connect and add value to their consumers."

As one of the largest manufacturers of telecom equipment in the world, Ericsson has a large number of long-term relationships with MNOs worldwide, relationships it is hoping to leverage as it expands its mobile payments services. The company launched its mobile money service for peer-to-peer money transfers last year.

For its part, venerable Western Union brings 150 years of experience in transferring money to the partnership. The company has more than 450,000 agent locations in 200 countries and territories worldwide and expertise in developing and launching co-branded mobile money offerings around the world.

The companies said that once the integration is complete they would continue to explore strategic collaborations to further simplify the establishment of mobile financial services by mobile network operators.

"Ericsson and Western Union have a very powerful combination of global scale, relationships, complementary expertise and brands," said Diane Scott, CMO and president of Western Union Ventures. "Together we believe we can bring mobile financial services to more places in the world than ever before — unlocking the power of financial services for millions of people worldwide."

For more stories like this, visit the Money Transfer/P2P research center.

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