Zain Plans Cross-Border Money Transfer Service in East Africa

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Maurice Newa, the Zain chief commercial officer, said the mobile company was in discussions with the different central banks about the possibility of transferring money across borders the same way voice is today transferred without any extra charges.

"The technology is not a problem. It is the regulatory issues and right now we are talking to the different central banks about how we can transfer money across the borders," Newa said as the company announced its trustee partnership with Standard Chartered Bank Uganda last week.

Newa said that coupled with its One Network cross-border service, Zain's mobile banking platform will be the world's biggest cross-border mobile commerce service.

"With ZAP, Zain customers will soon be able to make cross-border payments and transfers between Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda with no extra charge," Newa said. One Network allows travelling customers to move across geographic borders without roaming surcharges.

Zain is due to launch ZAP, a mobile commerce service that will allow Ugandans transfer money internally. Already operational in Kenya and Tanzania, ZAP offers accessible packages of mobile banking features currently available on the African continent.

"We have finalized regulatory issues with Bank of Uganda, which has allowed Zain to use the full suite of mobile commerce services," Mr. Yesse Oenga, the Zain Uganda Managing Director said.

"That means that the ZAP service with Zain will not be limited to money transfer but will also include mobile airtime transfer, mobile banking, mobile merchant payment and cross-border money transfer," he added.

The partnership will enable Zain customers to use their mobile phone to pay bills, pay for goods and services, receive money and send money to friends, family and business partners.

The services also helps one deposit and withdraw money into/from their own bank account, check their account balance and keep track on payments and top up their own airtime or top up someone else's.

"We are extremely excited to be partnering with Zain on this ground-breaking initiative," Lamin Manjang, the Chief Executive Officer Standard Chartered Bank said.

The ZAP service in Uganda has already been activated with over 1 million Zain customers possessing the service in their phone menus. Zain has enabled all existing SIM cards over-the-air. For those whose service is not yet activated, they will have to register to use the service.

"All a customer has to do now is register their details at a registered ZAP agent, Zain outlets across the country and at the Zain headquarters in Kampala," a press statement reads in part.

Customers will also benefit from being able to access the service 24 hours a day, seven days a week through their handset menu and enjoy the convenience of having access to cash anytime, anywhere.

To register, one only needs their valid ID. Zain will then provide the customer with a virtual bank account, which will allow them to use their mobile phone in much the same way as a debit card and manage their money through their handset.

East African Business Week