Saturday, February 21, 2009

Zain dials up mobile banking in Africa with Zap

Leading mobile telecommunications provider Zain today announced plans to bring mobile banking to over 100 million people in East Africa with the launch of its new service, Zap.

Zap will be initially available in Kenya and Tanzania prior to launch in Uganda. Zain is partnering with leading international and regional banks including Citigroup and Standard Chartered to launch Zap, which will allow Zain customers in the three countries to use their mobile phone to:

o Pay bills and pay for goods and services
o Receive money and send money to friends and family
o Send and receive money to the bank accounts
o Withdraw cash
o Top up their own airtime account or top up someone else's
o Send airtime to Zain customers in East Africa
o Manage their bank accounts

The Zap service will also be included as part of Zain’s pioneering One Network service, meaning that customers will be able to send airtime to other Zain customers across Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. One Network allows travelling customers to move across geographic borders without roaming surcharges, recharge their mobile phones with locally purchased top up cards and receive calls for free.

Zain customers can sign-up for free for the new Zap banking and payment services by completing an application form and handing it over to registered Zain agents in tens of thousands of villages, towns and cities across East Africa. Zain will then provide the customer with a mobile wallet, which will allow them to use their mobile phone in much the same way as a bank account debit card and manage their money through their handset. The service is supported on all handsets including ultra low cost handsets (ULCH) which Zain is successfully rolling out across the continent.

Zain and its partners are confident that Zap will increase access to banking services in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, where formal banking services are largely restricted to urban populations. Eighty per cent of Kenya's and ninety-five per cent of Tanzania's and Uganda's populations do not have currently have access to banking services.

Zain, in partnership with Citigroup and Standard Chartered Bank, is ensuring that the services meet all the required in-country banking regulations as stipulated by the central banks for the launch of Zap services. In addition Zain’s banking partners will facilitate payments and settlement processes in accordance with the terms and conditions agreed with the in country banking regulations.

Zain plans to roll-out the enhanced Zap service to the rest of its African and Middle East network following the East Africa launch in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. During a three month trial phase the service was used by several international companies including Coca Cola who used it to pay their dealers in Tanzania.

By using Zap millions of customers will be able to pay their electricity bills in Kenya and Tanzania, while Zain also plans to increase the number of services that can be paid for using Zap as part of its aim to transform the use of money in the Africa.