By John Manning – firstname.lastname@example.org
South African-based mobile telecoms major MTN Group has partnered with three Rwandan companies to provide financial services to a larger part of the country’s population. The deal involves Kenya Commercial Bank’s unit in Rwanda, payment-system provider RSwitch and I&M Bank. Via the partnership, MTN will offer its mobile-money-service subscribers the opportunity to transfer and receive money via KCB accounts, from ATMs operated by I&M Bank and from machines that are part of the RSwitch network. For all this, users will not need to use bank cards, which will make the service accessible for the unbanked part of the Rwandan population.
Commenting on the news, as reported by The New Times daily, KCB’s head of banking, Keza Monica, said that providing innovative banking services for its clients has been one of the priorities of KCB, and that this latest deal with MTN will prove to be a game-changer. She explained that the mobile-money system will expand financial inclusion among Rwandans; it will improve people’s lives, create jobs and at the same time promote an economy less dependent on cash. RSwitch’s head of projects, Catherine Ngali, also said her company was happy to take part in this partnership, helping provide people with card-less financial-transaction options.
MTN was recently named the top brand in Africa by Brand Finance South Africa in its Top 50 awards. The company has a dominant position on the continent with an extensive presence in many if not most countries. This latest service in Rwanda is unique for MTN as it will serve to satisfy the needs of both the banked and the unbanked population, MTN’s general manager of business, Norman Munyampundu, said. It is part of the company’s Bold New Digital strategy
Mobile banking has been gaining prominence thanks to the fast development of digital technologies. Banks are even closing branches to focus more on providing remote services via mobile devices. Statistically, in the US alone, 81 percent of the population has used online-banking services at least once over the 12-month period to July 2014, and 19 percent used mobile banking, almost a fifth. Of these, 90 percent said they checked their account balances or recent transactions, and 42 percent said they made a money transfer. A quarter said they paid a bill via mobile banking.
The US is among the most technically advanced nations in the world, but the mobile-banking trend is certainly catching on everywhere, and bankers are quick to grab the opportunity to expand their service offerings to their clients. Mobile-money services are especially relevant in African countries where the proportion of the unbanked population is higher. Such services give these clients the opportunity to take advantage of banking services without even having to open an account, allowing banks, in turn, to expand their customer base; a perfect example of a situation full of mutual benefits.