Microfinance group CGAP has teamed with South Africa's Wizzit Bank to pilot mobile banking services in the country's small towns and rural communities.
Launched in 2005, South African Bank of Athens-owned Wizzit targets the unbanked population, offering an account that lets customers use their mobile phones to make person-to-person payments, transfers and pre-paid purchases. Holders also receive a pre-paid maestro card.
It is now working with CGAP's technology programme to trial an m-banking service for the major wholesalers serving more than 500 microentrepreneurs, who run small 'spaza' shops, in the township of Motherwell, where three in five people are unbanked.
In addition, a pilot programme designed to make it easy to open accounts, and get preferred pricing, at clothing retailer Dunns' has been launched. If successful, this trial will expand to 289 stores throughout the country. To encourage sign-ups and use, customers will be given incentives to make purchases with their Maestro debit card rather than cash.
Wizzit will also work with South African Post Office for distribution.
Brian Richardson, co-founder, Wizzit, says: "Wizzit is in a good position to engage with South Africa's rural communities on a face-to-face basis because Wizzit does not rely on branches to open accounts and facilitate transactions."