Firm launches service linking bank accounts to handsets in Kenya

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

A new player has entered the mobile money business, this time integrating virtue accounts in telephone handsets to bank accounts.

Mobikash Africa Limited says its service dubbed Mobikash will operate across all telecommunication networks in Kenya —Safaricom, Airtel, Orange and Yu.

Post Bank, Transnational Bank and National Bank of Kenya have signed up to the service during a pilot phase that ran last year.

Mobikash chief executive Duncan Otieno said the service offers cash on the go and is suited to the lifestyle of many Kenyans who now own a mobile handset and need to manage their finances better. The company has retained 3,000 agents across the country.
“The product will significantly grow the financial services landscape in Kenya by leveraging on technology,” he said.

Mobikash will allow users to carry out transactions between the virtual accounts in handsets and their accounts at participating banks. The service can link up to 15 bank accounts in different institutions, enabling transactions between them as well.
People without bank accounts will be required to open a Popote account which will enable them to access services offered by participating banks. However, withdrawals can only be made at MobiKash agent outlets.

Mobikash chairperson Muthoni Kuria said the charges are pegged on existing mobile transfer services with which the company intends to partner in future.

The company is looking to register 300,000 of the 19 million mobile phone subscribers in Kenya, out of which 14.5 million are registered with mobile cash transfer services like M-pesa, yuCash, Orange Money and Zap.

The Central Bank of Kenya estimates that Sh2.45 million changes hands daily through the handset based cash transfers.
Earlier this year, Mobile Pay Limited launched Tangaza, a money transfer service which serves all telecommunication networks and is available to everyone, even those without phones.

When asked how MobiKash is different from Tangaza, Mr Otieno said the new service offers banking services, making it one of its kind in the world.