Monitise, the leading global Mobile Money solutions provider, has launched a mobile payments service with its partners in Nigeria that allows Nigerians to send and receive money safely from their handsets.
Thanks to Monitise Mobile Money, Nigerians can now make deposits, withdrawals and transfers via a network of approved agents.
The pilot of the first Monitise branded customer-facing service targeted at the unbanked has been launched in four cities and 11 rural locations across four states under a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) provisional licence to develop the country's mobile payments network. Monitise expects to provide its technology to other financial institutions in Nigeria as it does in other markets around the world.
The CBN's decision on the granting of full licences is expected in May 2011.
Monitise's pilot has already created 16 full-time jobs for field support staff to assess, vet, recruit and train agents. Funds can be deposited by agents at branches of Monitise's first Nigerian bank partner, Afribank. Once users have registered, whether by simple self-registration or through an agent, they can access Monitise Mobile Money through an internet browser on their mobile handset.
Although the service works across all mobile networks, Etisalat Nigeria, the country's fastest growing mobile network operator, is providing Monitise with access to their call centre, USSD service, promotional material, dealer network and agent assistance.
Monitise Chief Executive Alastair Lukies said: "We are excited to pioneer this new cashless way for Nigerians to manage their money even in remote areas of the country via their mobile handsets. Crucially, this will help those without bank accounts securely access financial services. We expect uptake to grow as the Monitise Mobile Money offer is increasingly recognised and understood across Nigeria."
Lukies added: "The piloting of our services in this key African market has been hugely promising. The next steps will be to develop broad-based services to extend the scope of the pilot to include other Nigerian bank partners."
Prateek Shrivastavstava, Managing Director of Monitise Africa, said: "Outside major towns and cities, there is a significant lack of physical banking infrastructure in Nigeria, effectively excluding rural populations from even the most basic form of banking services. This exacerbates rural poverty and financial exclusion and has an adverse impact on economic development. At Monitise, we are excited about our partnership approach with banks to bring a full range of mobile financial services and more choice to the people of Nigeria."
Monitise has been supported by the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF), which has provided grant funding to assist in the launch of its mobile banking and payments service.
AECF Director Hugh Scott said: "With a population of over 150 million, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and its economy is on track to overtake South Africa's in a few years. However, the lack of widespread financial services in the country may extend the economic divide that exists already. We firmly believe that access to financial services empowers people across the social spectrum."
He added: "The AECF has supported Monitise's inclusive model of bringing a full range of financial services to the unbanked, since it first began its foray into Africa. With jobs and opportunities being created for men and women directly and indirectly by Monitise, we foresee the company having a large economic and systemic development impact in Nigeria."