Prepaid airtime credit has emerged as a currency in several developing nations, where people are using it to settle debts and make payments because it can essentially be sent over the mobile network, whereas cash requires a physical meeting and exchange. Some operators do things to actively encourage nontraditional uses of prepaid credits, like in the Philippines, where the ability to shift tiny amounts of credits from one person to another has created an entire industry of resellers that cater to users who can't afford to minimum airtime purchase from standard retailers. Now, African carrier MTN is selling prepay credits for its Nigerian network in the UK so that expatriates there can send them back to people in their home country. So instead of sending money home to pay phone bills, people's friends or relatives in the UK can just buy the credits and send them home instead. Western Union probably isn't going to feel too threatened, but it's an example of how operators in developing nations can use some creative thinking to boost their sales.
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