South Africa's Standard Bank has teamed with local mobile phone operator MTN to launch a banking service that allows customers to open and access accounts using their mobile hand sets.
MTN says the free service will enable its 20 million subscribers – many of which are under-banked or un-banked – to activate a MobileMoney transactional account using their mobile phones.
Clients can open accounts using software downloaded to their phones or already embedded on SIM cards. An extra digit is added to a customer's mobile phone number to create a MobileMoney account number.
The m-banking system includes a free SMS alert service and also enables person-to-person payments, fund transfers and bill payments. Clients can also make small payments with prepaid credits.
Customers will also get a MobileMoney CashCard which can be used at Standard Bank branches and ATMs. These cards can also be upgraded to MasterCard credit cards.
MTN says as of September all new SIM cards will already have MTN Banking pre-loaded during production, and from early next year the MobileMoney CashCards will be included in all its 'pay as you go' and contract starter packs.
Commenting on the service, Peter Wharton-Hood, MD, retail banking, Standard Bank, says: "MTN Banking and the MobileMoney product offer one of the most cost-efficient banking solutions yet available in Africa."
"Thanks to the demographics of the MTN client-base, we can reach out to millions of younger South Africans," he adds.
Irene Charnley, commercial director, MTN Group, adds: "This convenient, retail environment revolutionises financial sector marketing and distribution channels while massively simplifying service access."