INTERNET

New Online Payment System Comes to Phone Users in Tanzania

Mobile phone users in Tanzania will from March be able to shop online using a new payment system developed by a local firm, Wide International Network. According to the firm's chief executive Isaac Kitinya the proposed system integrates the Internet and mobile phone technology in such a way that users can pay for services offered by a cross section of firms courtesy of mobile telephony operators.

"People will be able to transact business online in tourism, travel, sports and entertainment, web maintenance and solution and ticketing," Kitinya said.For instance, the tourism sector will be able to reach customers worldwide and get payments directly "once a deal is struck."

Deputy Director National Payment Systems at the Bank of Tanzania Benard Dadi welcomed the system but argued it would be used more if the country speeded up the issuance of a national identity cards.

According to Wide International Network, the system will offer about 30 services that run across businesses, government, learning institutions, faith-based organisations, health institutions, manufacturing and financial institutions.

The banks will have an online banking facility which will provide online support, reasonable response time, easy to use interface and a secure environment. All transfers will end up in the hands of the bank thus increasing banking access and creating virtual customers worldwide.

Despite the many players in the tourism industry -- booking offices, travel agents, site owners, hotels -- the Wide International Network system will merge all services into a single transaction performed anywhere.

"Using the system, consumers will be able to simplify their tourism arrangements, facilitate bookings and pay bills for local services like water, electricity, insurance and others," said Mr Kitinya.

The state-of-the-art online payment system, the first of its kind to operate in Tanzania, is hosted by IX Webhosting of the United States. The development of the system has been accomplished by a multidisciplinary team of experienced experts in ICT, business, law, banking, economics and finance.

The system has been accepted by several organisations including Azam Marine Company Ltd, Vodacom and Zain Tanzania. Wide International Network's bankers are Barclays Bank Tanzania and Commercial Bank of Africa Tanzania. The system reduces the need for using hard cash, and physical movement of people and paper in effecting business deals.

The East African

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