Pipeline Publishing, Volume 7, Issue 5
This Month's Issue:
Wireless for Developing Markets
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Will Kenya’s biggest bank be Safaricom?
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Said Pieter Uys, Vodacom Group CEO in a statement: “There are other cell phone banking products and money transfer services out there, but there quite simply is nothing like M-Pesa. The beauty of this service is the ease and speed with which people can send money to each other anywhere in the country.”

Vodacom’s commercial director Romeo Kumalo says the telecom’s target is to sign up 10 million customers within three years. According to Mark Taylor the MD of Vodacom Payment Services, securing more than 10 million users on the new M-Pesa service will not only be more than 50 per cent of Vodacom’s subscriber base, but will be a springboard for the mobile telephony company that will give it enough traction to bring in more mobile subscribers to their network.

Mobile companies in Africa will double up as commercial banks for the poor.

for the first time.

According to Zain, which is currently operational in a dozen African countries, its new Zap service makes it the world’s biggest mobile commerce operator in terms of geographic coverage, service functionalities and connected subscribers. Aside from cash transfers, the new service from Zain allows its subscribers to perform a series of other financial transactions from their cell phones that include paying for their utility bills.

According to Zain, Zap is an integral part of Zain's pioneering One Network platform, which means that its customers from one country will be able to enjoy the same services when traveling to another country with a

Zain: The world’s biggest mobile commerce operator

Zain, Kenya’s second largest mobile company and one of the continent’s largest mobile companies (which was recently acquired by India’s Bharti AirTel) has also recently unveiled its Zap mobile banking application in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The mobile firm has also launched the mobile banking service in other countries including Sierra Leone, Niger and Malawi.

Currently, Zap is Africa’s most comprehensive and accessible mobile commerce service, now serving over 150 million people in six countries on the continent. According to Zain, the new service is allowing its subscribers to access advanced financial services though their mobile phones.

With a population of just under one billion people in Africa, most of these people, some from some of the world’s poorest countries such as Niger and Malawi, are accessing financial services

Zain network. The One Network platform offered by Zain allows its customers to cross geographic borders without any roaming surcharges while they can make calls and text at local rates at the same time.

It is, therefore, an indubitable fact that the ability to pay for goods and services, without necessarily carrying hard cash is universally appealing, more so in Africa where crime rates are high. This remains one of the main reasons why mobile banking is such an appealing proposition in Africa and why the continent leads the rest of the world in embracing mobile telephony commerce (m-commerce).

And with the millions of unbanked Africans seeking alternative financial service avenues, all indications point to the mobile phone in their hands as their most probable bank account. Simply put, mobile companies in Africa will double up as commercial banks for the poor.

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