Mobile Money, a cell phone-based bank account powered by MTN South Africa, has opened more than 1 million accounts and processed more than R1 billion in transactions in its first nine months of operations.
Mobile Money is based on the idea of “making banking as accessible as mobile communications”. Accessibility is defined along three dimensions: physical, emotional and financial.
Mobile Money is powered by MTN and operated by TYME, a distribution partner of the South African Bank of Athens. Account holders can access their accounts through USSD and deposit and withdraw cash at Pick n Pay and Boxer stores; they can also instantly transfer money to another cell phone number using the “send money” feature.
“MTN is proud to have partnered with retail outlets such as Pick n Pay and Boxer stores, who have a mass reach throughout the country to ensure that this service is accessible to customers, in line with our distribution strategy,” says Brian Gouldie, Chief Marketing Officer of MTN SA.
The Mobile Money account is setting new standards in lowest-cost banking in the country, with no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. Applicable fees are directly related to customer transactions: cash deposits and withdrawals cost R4 regardless of the amount, while sending money transactions costs R1. Particular fees are waived for MTN customers, such as cash deposit and sending money fees. A maximum balance of R25 000 and a daily transaction limit of R1 000 are specified for the account.
Gouldie explains, “The basic Mobile Money account is sufficient to meet the needs of a large proportion of the population, particularly the un-banked. The low fee structure makes it financially accessible for people who may not have been able to afford financial services previously.”
Mobile Money is network agnostic, allowing customers on any mobile network to open an account. Airtime for any network can also be purchased through Mobile Money, for which MTN customers receive a 5% “cash reward” into their accounts, irrespective of the network for which the airtime was purchased.
Mobile Money allows customers to remotely self-register for an account using their own cell phones. There is no need for the customer to visit a bank branch or submit additional documentation. However, all customers must be a resident of South Africa with a green ID book and 16 years of age or older, which specifically excludes foreign residents.
“Of the current Mobile Money base, 44% of customers have performed a transaction in the last 90 days, representing a significant advantage over the GSMA’s reported industry benchmark of only 22%,” says TYME’s Coenraad Jonker. “As we continue to develop new product features, we expect the activity rate to improve even further.”
“Innovation is as important within Mobile Money as it is to the rest of MTN,” says Gouldie. We are delighted by the current success of Mobile Money, but we continue to press on for even stronger performance and growth.”