Zain expands African mobile money service

Source: Zain

Leading mobile telecommunications provider Zain today announces the revolutionary enhancement of Zap, its rapidly expanding mobile banking service currently available to over 100 million people in East Africa and run in partnership with CitiBank and Standard Chartered Bank.

From today Zap customers can swiftly and securely receive money from any bank account around the world and easily send money to any bank in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. This is the first time in the world any mobile bank account has been configured so that its users can receive funds from anywhere in the world directly to their mobile handset as well as send funds directly to their Bank accounts.

In addition Zap allows customers to use their mobile phone 24 hours a day to:

  • Manage their bank accounts
  • Pay for goods and services and settle their utility bills
  • Receive Zap money - and send Zap money to their friends and family
  • Top up their airtime account - or top up someone else's
  • Check their balance and keep on top of their payments

These services are offered with the highest levels of the security through the convenience of a simple and intuitive end user interface. Dr. Saad Al Barrak, Zain Group's Chief Executive Officer said: "This enhancement of Zap is another world first from Zain. It means that our customers in remote towns and villages as well as those in the cities can receive money from wherever in the world their business colleagues or family and friends are. Ability to send money from the mobile phone to any bank account in East Africa will enable businesses to perform more efficiently. This will be of great assistance to all of our customers to enhance their livelihood fulfilling our brand promise of 'A Wonderful World'."

Zap provides the most comprehensive and accessible package of mobile banking features currently available on the African continent providing millions of people with access to banking for the very first time. It has been available in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda for six months and will be rolled out across all Zain operations.

Zap customers in East Africa use the service to pay for their electricity and water bills, pay for petrol a at Shell and Total stations, settle their satellite television bills with DSTV and pay for their groceries. The service is easy to use and has been used by more than 5 million people since it was launched. Zap is used by major international businesses in the region to quickly settle payments with distributors enabling them to reduce the cash carried in transit from upcountry shops and offices thereby reducing their insurance costs and enabling them to secure their funds within seconds.

The Zap service is included as part of Zain's pioneering 'One Network' service, meaning that customers will be able to manage their Zap accounts even while away from the home country. One Network allows travelling customers to move across geographic borders without roaming surcharges, recharge their mobile phones with locally purchased top up cards and receive calls for free.

Zap provides customers with increased security and flexibility, reducing the need to carry cash and ensuring payments between friends and family remain secure. A password is needed for each transaction and the service is protected through a state-of-the-art security application. Customers will also benefit from being able to access the service 24 hours a day, seven days a week through their handset, providing the convenience of accessing cash anytime, anywhere.

Zain customers can sign-up for free for the new Zap services by completing an application form and handing it over to registered Zain agents in tens of thousands of villages, towns and cities across East Africa. Zain will then provide the customer with a mobile wallet, which will allow them to use their mobile phone in much the same way as a bank account debit card and manage their money through their handset. The service is supported on all handsets including ultra low cost handsets (ULCH) which Zain is successfully rolling out across the continent.

Zain and its international and regional banking partners are confident that Zap will increase access to banking services in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, where formal banking services are largely restricted to urban populations. Eighty per cent of Kenya's[1] and ninety-five per cent of Tanzania's and Uganda's populations[2] do not have currently have access to banking services.

Zain, in partnership with Citigroup and Standard Chartered Bank, is ensuring that services meet all the required in Country and International banking regulations as stipulated by respective Central Banks. In addition Zain's banking partners will facilitate payments and settlement processes in accordance with the terms and conditions agreed with their national banking regulations.

Standard Chartered Bank's Head of Consumer Banking, East Africa, Kariuki Ngari said, "This service will enable families and businesses to access funds from around the world very swiftly and very securely. It has the potential to transform banking in Africa and will help overcome many of the obstacles presented by providing banking services to remote and rural communities who are now able to access global funds swiftly. We're proud to be working with Zain at the forefront of this mobile banking revolution. The launch of our partnership with Zain compliments our bank's philosophy of striving to meet customer needs and lifestyles by offering not only products and services but also delivery channels that are in line with current and anticipated future needs. We are conscious of the increasingly sophisticated needs of our customers who require instant and straightforward access to service their financial needs".

Sridhar Srinivasan, Global Transaction Services Head, Sub-Saharan Africa, Citi, said: "We are proud to be part of this initiative that will transform the banking environment in East Africa allowing people to access financial services in all the villages and towns across the country. This new Zap offering is another innovation which will extend the reach of financial services to every corner of this country and stimulate the payments system through accessible mobile technology. Our successful partnership with Zain enabling this groundbreaking service is a great testament of our commitment to the economic development of the countries where we operate, by promoting financial inclusion."

Chris Gabriel, CEO of Zain Africa said: "By enabling people to receive money in their homes at any time of day from businesses and family anywhere in the world Zain is making its customers lives easier. For example students can receive school fees from relatives located abroad and businessmen can receive payments for goods before shipment using their mobile phones as mobile wallets. This service is enabling Zain to deliver lasting benefits not just for our customers, but also for the economies of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda."

Zain plans to roll-out the enhanced Zap service to all its operations as part of its aim to transform the use of money. Zain was the first mobile company to introduce phone-to-phone airtime credit transfer service in 2005 (Me2U). Currently over US$10 million worth of airtime transfers take place in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda each month.

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