Societe Generale has launched a mobile money transfer and bill payment service in Senegal that is open to anyone with a handset, whether or not they have a bank account and regardless of their network operator.
SocGen says the Yoban'tel service - which is based on technology from US outfit Obopay - is designed as a universal payment method open to the largest number of people possible, whether they have bank accounts or not.
Any mobile phone can carry out the transaction, using SMS to send transfer requests, without having to change the SIM card or install an application.
The Senegal deployment will be followed by an African-wide roll out, with Yoban'tel eventually becoming the bank's m-payments system worldwide.
SocGen's Senegal subsidiary has signed partnerships with several local players to help spread the service. Microfinance institution Credit Mutual du Senegal will offer registration and cash management while mobile operator Tigo's outlets will provide distribution. TV station Canal+ Horizons Senegal has also signed up to enable subscription payments through the system.
Richard Hababou, MD, Societe Generale innovations group, says: "Yoban'tel by Obopay allows us to establish innovative and convenient mobile money transfer and payments for those Senegalese who have previously not had access to such services."
Africa has seen a boom in mobile payments provision in the last two years on the back of M-Pesa, the hugely successful Kenyan service. According to a report published by Arthur D Little last year, global transaction volumes will reach $250 billion in 2012, driven by Africa and other developing regions.