At Mobile World Congress, MasterCard today announced an agreement with eTranzact International plc, a leading pan-African mobile banking and payment services company, to make international remittance services available to millions of consumers in Nigeria.
Under the agreement, citizens will be able to securely receive international remittances into their eTranzact mobile money wallets or select bank accounts through the international transfer hub, HomeSend. A joint venture between MasterCard, eServGlobal and BICS, HomeSend bridges the gap between various entities globally such as financial institutions, non-financial entities and mobile network operators, enabling Nigerians living and working abroad to send money from mobile money accounts, payment cards, bank accounts or cash outlets back home.
“For millions of Nigerians, the receipt of funds from friends and family is an important lifeline. HomeSend provides senders across the globe and the recipients in Nigeria with a convenient, safe, and cost effective money transfer channel,” says Omokehinde Ojomuyide, Vice President and Area Business Head for West Africa, MasterCard.
Upon receipt of funds into their eTranzact mobile wallets, Nigerians can use PocketMoni, eTranzact’s mobile money platform, to pay bills, top-up airtime, pay select merchants, cash out at agents or at participating bank ATMs, and send money to any bank account, PocketMoni user, eTrazact card or mobile phone user.
“Our partnership with MasterCard enables us to bring a new, cost-effective, cross-border remittance service to Nigerians, many of whom have previously struggled to access such facilities as they do not have formal bank accounts,” says Valentine Obi, Chief Executive Officer, eTranzact International Plc. “Instead of travelling long distances and waiting in long lines, Nigerians will now be able to electronically receive cash transfers from family overseas with the convenience of their mobile devices.”
eTranzact, which is connected to and switches transactions for all of Nigeria’s major commercial banks, will also enable millions of consumers to receive remittances directly into their bank accounts.
According to the World Bank Migration and Remittances Brief, Nigeria is the largest remittance market in Africa and the fifth largest in the world, attracting US$21 billion in remittances in 2014, which contributed four percent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product.
“We are pleased to partner with eTranzact to bring one of the most comprehensive international remittances offerings to Nigeria. This type of service has the potential to open up new remittance corridors, expand the scope of cashless money transfers, extend financial inclusion and support the growth of the economy,” says Ojomuyide.
Separately, MasterCard announced a partnership with Steward Bank, Zimbabwe’s most innovative bank, which will make remittance services available to the bank’s more than 1.5 million account holders. For the first time, the bank’s customers will be able to receive funds sent by family and friends abroad directly into their Steward Bank accounts.
This is through international money transfer hub HomeSend, a joint venture between MasterCard, eServGlobal and BICS. Steward Bank is the first Zimbabwean bank to join the global HomeSend network.
In the next phase, Steward Bank’s sister company EcoCash will soon connect to HomeSend, enabling more than four million EcoCash mobile money customers to receive remittances into their mobile money wallets, after which they can pay bills, pay merchants, send money and cash out. Those who hold a MasterCard Debit Companion card linked to their EcoCash wallets will also be able to withdraw money from MasterCard-licensed ATMs and pay for goods and services at millions of merchants that accept MasterCard payment cards, both in Zimbabwe and internationally.
“Remittances are an important source of foreign currency into Zimbabwe, amounting to US$1.8 billion in 2013 received via transfer agencies and formal channels,” said Dr. Lance Mambondiani, Acting CEO, Steward Bank. “Thousands of under-banked Zimbabwean families are dependent on funds sent by relatives working in other countries. Now, through the partnership with MasterCard and HomeSend, these citizens have access to affordable, convenient money transfer services.”
The International Organisation for Migration estimates that as many as four million Zimbabweans live abroad. Given estimates that Zimbabwe’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was about US$13.5 billion in 2013, remittances received from these individuals through formal channels alone contributed about 13 percent to the country’s GDP.
“Zimbabweans in the Diaspora are increasingly playing an important role in the development of the country through remittances. However, the cost of transferring money to the country was high until now, and a large proportion of remittances were sent informally in cash,” said Charlton Goredema, Vice President and Area Business Head, Southern Africa and Emerging Markets, MasterCard. “Funds sent and received via informal channels are vulnerable to theft, loss and shrinkage due to charges levied for transporting cash between countries.”
“By digitizing and formalising remittance payments, we are further contributing to the growth and development of Zimbabwe’s economy,” he says.
Zimbabweans living abroad can send funds via a range of channels including participating MasterCard financial services institutions and HomeSend’s partners: mHITs (Australia), Skrill (worldwide), Hello Paisa (South Africa) and Daytona Capital Management (UK).