updated 5/31/2007 8:15:21 AM ET 2007-05-31T12:15:21

Thousands of Filipino workers in Malaysia can now remit money to their families back home under a new mobile phone money transfer service unveiled by Malaysia's top mobile phone operator Maxis.

In a statement late Wednesday, Maxis said it has tied up with the Philippines' Globe Telecom to introduce what it said was the world's first mobile international money transfer service called M-money.

Under the system, Maxis customers can wire up to 500 ringgit ($143) per transaction to Globe subscribers in the Philippines, who can retrieve the money at Globe's 6,000 outlets, the statement said.

M-money will "revolutionize money transfer" and make it a convenient and cheaper alternative for foreign workers in Malaysia to send money back home, it said.

Maxis customers must cash in the money with Maxis before making any overseas remittance and are charged only a five ringgit ($1.47) service fee per transaction, less than half the fee that bank charges, it added.

Globe consumer business head Ferdz De la Cruz said the service marked a "breakthrough in cross-border financial services."

A Maxis spokeswoman, who declined to be named because she is not authorized to speak to the media, said subscribers can remit up to 500 ringgit a day and 10,000 ringgit ($2,940) a month.

Maxis said it plans to extend the service to Indonesia next month, to allow Maxis customers to send money to Indonesian bank accounts.

Maxis chief executive Sandip Das said in the statement that the Philippines and Indonesia account for the bulk of remittances from Malaysia, estimated at $4.3 billion of annual transaction volume.

Thousands of Filipinos and Indonesians live in Malaysia, fulfilling much of the country's need for low-cost laborers.

Maxis, which also has operations in India and Indonesia, serves some 13 million customers in the region. It didn't say how many of its nine million customers in Malaysia are foreigners.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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