Friday, April 11, 2008

Introducing mobile banking in Tanzania

TANZANIAN Vodacom subscribers will soon benefit from e-banking services to be introduced by Vodacom Tanzania branch, the leading cellular phone operating company in the country.

This giant company will become the first mobile phone operator providing the service in the country. It will also be the third in Africa after Vodacom South Africa and Safaricom Kenya. Vodacom Tanzania Managing Director Mr Dietlof Mare said recently that the major technical issues had already been completed, and the operator would soon launch the new service.

According to him, the company is waiting for an official regulatory approval by the Bank of Tanzania. Once approved, the service would be made available in the country as from April 28, this year. The service known as ‘Vodafone M- Pesa’, would see users easily making financial transactions, including money transfers using their mobile phones.

Vodacom customers would register at any authorized M-Pesa agent where they would also be given handsets for that purpose, and be able to deposit and withdraw e-money credited into their M-Pesa account.

With e-money, customers will be able to send money to any other mobile customer via a simple text-based transaction. Recipients of such transfers will be able to convert the e-money back into cash at any authorized M-Pesa agent across the country.

This new service will also enable customers to make payments, and transfer cash, even to subscribers of other networks, in the same way banks do. But, the mobile banking service is more convenient, secure and offers competitive charges compared to other formal services.

Subscribers who cannot afford opening accounts with traditional banks would also get the chance to transact using the service. Vodacom Tanzania is one of the leading mobile operators in the country, now with over 4.1 million customers. The award winning mobile banking service was first introduced by UK’s Vodafone, and taken up by Safaricom in Kenya last year where it become an instant hit, registering over 20,000 customers within the first month of its launch.

Out of the available ICTs which are usable as new media facilities, the application of mobile telephony has to a greater extent improved communications for the rural people in Tanzania and Africa as whole despite of its advanced technology in use.

This can support participatory development as well as allow the voices of the people to be heard through a range of options that can be operated individually or within small networks not requiring elaborate infrastructure.

The use of ICTs has gone into overdrive, as a good number of innovations cementing real concrete results begin manifesting themselves. Although the ground is still the bottom line and the sky the limit, the use of mobile phones has reinforced initiatives in areas that were particularly averse to the use of any modern ICT as one of the ways of getting the much needed information.

Far away from being looked at as luxurious gadgets that diminish people’s incomes, people have come up with innovations that have placed mobile phones as one of the major tools for community mobilization and dissemination.

The use of mobile phones in African rural communities have a significant impact that provides immense opportunities to promote and foster aspects of human development in terms of social, economic, education and cultural political development.

Businessmen, farmers, teachers, engineers, doctors, ordinary people and any other professional body of all walks of life elsewhere in the world use the facility for communication purposes and for the mutual benefit of their gain and nation as well.

Various studies shows that new media facilities leapfrog the development divide and accelerate efforts to combat poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy in a bid to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

1 comment:

hj said...

As a journalist based in Tanzania, it should be assumed that your facts are cross-checked and correct for the local context. Its unfortunate that this is not the case, as contrary to your post, Vodacom was not the first operator to provide mobile banking services in the country. The first was in fact Zantel with their Z-Pesa service. Previous to that the mobipawa service was unveiled as an network independent service. You should take a look at one of the pioneers in the industry, E-Fulusi Africa, which happens to be a Tanzanian company influencing the industry globally.