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Big news in mobile banking

Ryan Hahn's picture

Zain has announced the roll-out of Zap, an initiative to bring mobile banking to millions in Africa. It looks like Safaricom will now have some serious competition. has the details:

Providing the most comprehensive and accessible package of mobile banking features currently available on the African continent, Zap will be initially available in Kenya and Tanzania prior to the launch in Uganda.

Zap represents the most comprehensive mobile banking service ever launched and will provide millions of people with access to banking for the very first time.

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 - with others to follow - to use their mobile phone to: pay bills and pay for goods and services, receive money and send money to friends and family, send and receive money to the bank accounts, withdraw cash, top up their own airtime account or top up someone else's, send airtime to Zain customers in Africa, and manage their bank accounts.

(Hat tip: White African)


Submitted by Aaron Rose on
Transferring hard currency in remote/rural areas is a significant obstacle to sustainable economic development. Families living in urban areas often send hard currency to the villages by local post office or with a trusted friend to carry the cash. Zap is another great development to increasing financial/banking accessibility in Africa.It is good to see multinational partners like Citigroup and Standard Chartered.

Submitted by Ryan Hahn on
To Josiah: This is an important issue, and a key difference between the two companies. As far as I understand MPESA is only a mobile payments service, and does not provide mobile banking (nor does it have the license to do so). Zap will increase pressure to extend access to bank accounts - whether this can be done cheaply enough for mass access is still to be seen.

Submitted by Steven on
The main issue is that MPESA already exists there to threaten ZAP. MPESA has got a great achievement in mobile banking services. I’m not sure that it will be as successful as MPESA. That's good news for all the Africans to increase more accessibility in banking financial services. ZAP will need to increase pressure through campaign planning to bank accounts. Steven Drug Intervention

How so ever tempting the service sounds, I doubt if a complete m-banking approach can work in a relatively under-educated Africa. The people need to see hard-currency to believe the system. And however brilliant a product might be, unless it has the trust of its potential clients - it can't succeed.

Submitted by Ngetha on
@aaron rose While it's true that Zap is tied to a bank account, it offers in my view a good mobile banking service as opposed to M Pesa which is centered around cash transfers. So Zap is mobile banking, M-Pesa is not. That is a crucial difference. Zain is actively engaging banks to join in the Zap service, the conflict in my view is that banks are still wanting to launch their own mobile banking solutions. @steven I agree with you, perhaps Zain should have stuck to simple Money Transfers. Complete Mobile Banking solutions seem to be the trend as Yu & Orange Kenya are pursuing these as well.

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