Mobile phone operator Zain will re-launch its Sokotele money transfer service under a new brand name Zap early next year.
On Wednesday, the firm also introduced a promotional lower international calling rate of Sh20 per minute between 8 pm and 10 pm up to the end of January 2009.
Managing director Rene Meza said Zap will offer added services to clients in collaboration with local commercial banks.
“We expect to launch Zap early next year, the infrastructure is in place and is functional and operational and is already being used by 80 per cent of our customers through the 2,000 outlets in the country,” said Mr Meza at Nairobi’s Panari hotel.
The announcement comes against the backdrop of a directive by acting Finance minister John Michuki for an audit of Safaricom’s M-pesa money transfer system.
He said the Government is yet to establish the legal framework to guide mobile money transfer services.
Mr Meza said discussions with the Central Bank of Kenya and several other commercial banks were going on to meet the requirements.
“It will be a comprehensive mobile banking solution that will go beyond the money transfer. Customers will be able to interact with their banks and access their personal accounts,” he said.
Customers will be able to withdraw and deposit money through Zain outlets and transact international money transfers.
Mr Meza said the mobile phone service market had become more competitive with the entry of Telkom and Econet Wireless, but added that the current low calling charges were unsustainable.
“Tariffs might continue to go down although it is not sustainable for a long time because the investment needed is pretty much high.” He said the new entrants will need huge capital investments for laying out the infrastructure, introducing new technology and advertising their services.
Mobile telephony, he said, would also be affected by the global financial meltdown with reduced spending and dwindling credit.
He said Zain had raised its airtime sales by 25 per cent and increased the number of subscribers to 3 million since August.
Mr Meza said the adoption of unified licence was likely to attract more operators but added that the four firms were sufficient for the market at the moment.
“We are not sure that this country can accommodate more than four mobile phone firms and manage to operate in a profitably,” Mr Meza said.
when are you going to launch zap services we are waiting
for it can we have the exact date of the launch
It the great achivement kenyans will enjoy to access service which had never be there like payment of bills via phone.To this effect many Kenyan save alot in term of fare and long quees in banks.
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