Monitise targets East African market with JV

Monitise targets East African market with JV

UK m-banking outfit Monitise is launching its mobile banking and payments platform in East Africa through a joint venture with Made In Africa, an organisation that aims to introduce capital and sustainable technologies to the region.

The new JV, called Monitise East Africa, will be 51% owned by the vendor, with Made In Africa holding a 49% stake.

Monitise says the joint venture will bring its platform to a potential audience of over 220 million people in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Sudan and Zambia.

Under the agreed heads of terms, an annual license fee of £0.8 million, plus volume-based royalties, will be payable to Monitise plc from Monitise East Africa for the first five years, to be capped at £1.8 million per annum. Following this, an extension to the terms may be granted, subject to terms being agreed between both parties. The contract and joint venture are expected to be formalised by July 2008.

Citing figures from the GSMA and African Business Magazine suggesting mobile phone ownership is growing at 50% per annum across Africa, whilst 75% of the population does not have access to modern financial services, Monitise says both partners believe the "opportunity for mobile banking and payments is significant".

"Historically, the limited reach of the physical branch network in many African countries has been an inhibitor to the adoption of banking services," says Alastair Lukies, chief executive, Monitise. "However, the remarkable and inspiring progress made by organisations such as Vodafone and Safaricom through M-Pesa has demonstrated the potential of the mobile handset in delivering financial services to the African mass-market."

Safaricom and Vodafone launched M-Pesa - a mobile-based payment service targeting the un-banked, pre-pay mobile subscribers in Kenya - in 2007. Following the success of the service, earlier this year Vodafone said it would launch a similar service in Afghanistan.

Lukies says the launch of Monitise East Africa offers Monitise "a significant platform for growth, demonstrating the transferability of our technology on an international scale”,

Commenting on the m-banking venture, Chris Cleverly, co-founder, Made In Africa, says: "Our objective in working with Monitise to launch Monitise East Africa is to provide a sustainable mobile banking and payments framework which spreads the benefits of electronic cash to all, while providing the 'technology leap' which has inhibited the adoption of banking services through fixed infrastructure."

Made In Africa was established by Cleverly along with menswear designer Ozwald Boateng and Prince Hassan Kimbugwe with the aim of exposing African businesses to international investment and capital markets.

Earlier this month plans for another African mobile banking and payments programme were unveiled by German vendor paybox and MoneyBoxAfrica - an initiative promoted by Nigeria's Integrated Capital Service.

Paybox says its Mobiliser platform and Money Mobiliser product will enable customers to remotely save money into their accounts, top up phones, pay utility bills and tithes, buy insurance, send money to friends and relatives, withdraw cash at agents' locations or ATMs, get access to credit and make investments.

The system will be rolled out in Nigeria "in the near future" before a wider deployment across Africa.

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