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Microsoft Philippines to Relaunch Service for OFWs Next Year

By Erwin Oliva
Last updated 11:44pm (Mla time) 11/25/200

MANILA, Philippines–Microsoft Philippines is scheduled to re-launch a major mobile phone service that aims to provide a cost-effective communications platform for overseas Filipino workers, a top local executive said.Microsoft Philippines managing director Rafael Rollan said that the service, dubbed “One Follow Me,” will be introduced again next year following pilot tests in two countries, namely Spain and Italy.

One Follow Me is a service developed to allow overseas Filipino workers to communicate and even remit funds to their families using a Microsoft-enabled phone connected to the Internet. The service includes mobile applications, for mobile instant messaging, surfing, and making voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) phone calls.

There are now close to 300 users of One Follow Me in the two countries, Rollan said. Asked why the pilot tests were conducted overseas, the Microsoft Philippines executive said this was due to the high concentration of OFWs who can afford to buy the device. Microsoft Philippines has explained that One Follow Me uses a Windows-powered mobile phone to access the Internet and conduct single or multiple fund transfers. Money is credited to their families’ accounts and can be withdrawn using automated teller machines. Microsoft Philippines has indicated that the device runs on a Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system. It is not yet clear if the newer version of Windows Mobile operating system will be used.

The device connects to the Internet using existing mobile networks or through wi-fi hotspots. The software company has announced a partnership with Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. to enable OFWs to use a Windows-powered handheld device to remit or transfer funds overseas to their families in the Philippines.In an interview, Mae Rivera-Moreno, Microsoft public relations and community affairs manager, said that Microsoft Philippines is negotiating with more banks. Microsoft Philippines cited internal company research earlier that revealed that overseas Filipino workers spend an average of $50 to $250a month in overseas calls.

Microsoft developed One Follow Me using the Microsoft Live Communications Server.