16 February 2012
South Africa’s First National Bank has seen a huge uptake in its mobile money solutions by customers of its African operations, with cellphone banking transactions growing 150% and eWallet transactions surging by 1 384% year-on-year in December 2011.
The bank’s customers in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland and Zambia conducted 2.4-million cellphone banking transactions to the value of R214-million during December last year, up from R986 000 recorded in December 2010.
Botswana, which is FNB’s leading subsidiary outside South Africa in terms of cellphone banking activity, saw just over 1.3-million transactions and in the same month, recorded a 126% increase year-on-year.
Namibia recorded year-on-year growth of 155%, Zambia 308% and Swaziland 227%.
Increasing confidence, convenience
FNB Cellphone Banking Solutions CEO Ravesh Ramlakan said the growth of the service in African markets was due to consumers’ increasing confidence in their mobile handsets as transactional devices, coupled with the convenience of mobile money solutions.
“Innovation has played a key role in growing cellphone banking across Africa,” Ramlakan said in a statement this week. “Our ability to adapt the service for use on any cellphone has been an important driver of this growth.”
Users can conduct a number of transactions using FNB Cellphone Banking, including transferring money between their own FNB accounts, buying prepaid airtime and making third party payments.
Bridging financial services gap
Since inception, FNB eWallet has generated 407 110 original “sends” in its four African operations (Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho and Zambia) as at the end of December 2011. In Botswana FNB eWallet, saw an increase in original sends of 1 236% year on year from December 2010 to December 2011.
FNB eWallet Solutions CEO Yolande van Wyk said that although eWallet had only recently been introduced to markets outside South Africa, the service has demonstrated strong potential for continued growth into the future.
“A country like Zambia, for example, has 5.4-million mobile phone users and a large informal sector, making a solution such as eWallet ideal in helping bridge the financial services gap between the banked and the unbanked,” Van Wyk said.
eWallet allows FNB customers to send money to anyone within the borders of the country in which the service operates. The recipient does not need to have a bank account. The money is transferred instantly and the recipient uses a pin code sent to their cellphone to access the cash from FNB ATMs.
“eWallet reduces both risk and cost, and in African markets we have found this to be essential in any financial product offering,” Van Wyk said.
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