MasterCard has teamed up with the National Bank of Egypt (NBE) and telco Etisalat to launch what it claims is the first ever Arabic mobile money service.
Dubbed Flous - money in Arabic - the service is the first to tap into the mobile money gateway built by MasterCard and local bank-owned e-payments outfit Egyptian Banks Company (EBC).
Flous will use the Etisalat mobile network and can be deployed on any mobile phone. The first phase of the programme will allow subscribers to transfer money to anyone participating in the service, and to load cash on their phones or take it out through Etisalat and NBE branches across Egypt.
A second phase will see subscribers able to pay their bills through their handset, top up their mobile pre-paid lines, and pay for goods and services in-store and online.
Mohamed Kamel Bayoumi, MD, EBC, says: "Our objective, together with the central bank and the government, is to bring financial services to the fingertips of each and every Egyptian. This collaborative initiative will allow us to achieve that."
Michael Miebach, president, Middle East and Africa, MasterCard, adds: "With 65% of the population lacking access to formal banking, the mobile phone is rapidly becoming the method of choice for making payments and managing money."