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Banking the Unbanked in Africa

October 10, 2008 • Enterprise IT

African banks are moving closer to the 230 million unbanked households in Africa’s rural areas through advanced satellite technologies. Gateway Communications, the largest provider of specialist pan-African corporate connectivity, which works with 22 of Nigeria’s 25 largest banks, enables secure and reliable connectivity services in metropolitan and rural areas where banks were previously unable to operate.

Using Gateway’s satellite and wireless technology a central office can now communicate instantly with branches in rural locations, rolling out electronic services, sending and receiving information in real time. Gateway uses a combination of wireless, fiber and satellite to deliver high speed connectivity to branches across cities and remote locations, meaning they can be online instantly. Low CAPEX solutions using world class technologies lead to fast implementation with no delay in set-up and installation.

With this new rural satellite connectivity, banks can now reach more of the 75% of Africa’s population without a bank account, with ATMs, electronic payments, mobile phone banking and electronic transfers. In addition to the benefits to new customers, an efficient payments system can help generate cost savings equivalent to 1% GDP, according to Visa International, due to lower cash handling costs, increased transparency and higher volume of cash in banks and increased tax revenue.

Gateway Communications has teams of connectivity experts based throughout Africa who specialise in advising African banks and financial institutions on the most effective way to connect their businesses; branches to head offices and their African operations to the rest of the world. Through enhanced connectivity and better communications, African banks are finding new markets outside of the major cities and increasingly banking the previously unbanked in Africa.

Gateway Communications’ AfricaConnect and Africa IP Connect products provide high-speed pan-African broadband services including data services, internet and VPN connectivity, using satellite-based IP communications technology from iDirect. As well as a cost-effective way to connect headquarters with geographically dispersed branches or their offices in remote areas, Gateway can provide links to European and into the rest of the world.

Peter Gbedemah, CEO Gateway Communications,

“The better connectivity that banks have, the further they can move into rural areas to reach previously untapped and under-served customers. We’re seeing increased demand from the banking and finance sector with organisations looking to increase their footprint and demanding more bandwidth to carry secure and reliable voice and data applications. Gateway’s unique knowledge of the banking and finance sector and the communications infrastructure in Africa has given us a real advantage. We are the only company in Africa able to rapidly deploy solutions at such high speeds with capacity, combined with the security and reliability required in the banking sector.”

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