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UK SMS-based coupon remittance service for Zimbabweans goes global

20 November 2008  |  8344 views  |  0 mobile keypad

Mukuru, an inflation-busting SMS-based coupon remittance programme for ex-pat Zimbabweans living in the UK, is expanding globally through an alliance with e-payments outfit Moneybookers.

Set up by UK-based Zimbabweans in 2004 with its first transfers in 2007, Mukuru allows ex-pats to remit value to friends or relatives through their mobile phone.

The service delivers text message coupons to recipients which can be redeemed for actual goods across a network of local stores, banks and petrol stations.

This enables them to bypass the Zimbabwe dollar and therefore hyperinflation, which is running at over 13.2 billion per cent a month, according to an index from the Cato Institute in Washington.

The Mukuru service has 20,000 subscribers with 1500 new customers joining every month and 400 transactions processed a day.

But Mukuru's managing director, Rob Burrell, says growth has been restricted by the number of countries it can accept payments from and the range of transaction methods.

The service is now being widened through a partnership Moneybookers which means payments can be sent online and via SMS in 35 different currencies, including euros, rand, US dollars, Canadian dollars and New Zealand dollars.

"Setting up bank accounts in each country individually would have been an expensive and laborious process, but thanks to the unique network of local European payment systems that Moneybookers provides, we have effectively transformed ourselves into a global organisation overnight," says Burrell.

Mukuru can also be used to send money to recipients in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia.

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