SA Zimbabweans welcome mobile transfers
Zimbabweans based in South Africa are fast adopting a service that allows them to transfer money home with their mobile phones.
Mukuru.com, a service launched from the UK by former Zimbabweans, allows registered users to send money across the border by going online or using their cellphones. The service is now expanding across Southern Africa.
For people who are used to queuing at a bank to transfer cash to Zimbabwe, or paying a hefty fee for a bus driver to safeguard it on a bus home, the service is proving welcome.
One such user, identified as Tsitsi, enthuses: “I have used this four times now, and it is so easy! It is cheaper than the money transfer and the bus. And they even send me an SMS when my family gets the money!” She says her compatriots were cautious at first, but now they are all adopting the service.
The service was first approved in South Africa in 2010 and expanded its footprint in South Africa through a partnership with a nationwide retailer, PEP Stores, several months ago.
Rob Burrell, Managing Director at Mukuru.com, says Mukuru.com is in a partnership with South African bureau de change InterAfrica. “Together, we designed a service that suited the Zimbabwean abroad in SA. Any Zimbabwean can register for the service and remit funds instantly back to their loved ones, to be collected at 100 points across Zim.”
The company is showing steady growth, he says. “Because we're Zimbabwean, and we know and love it - we feel we have a really close relationship with our customers.”
The company is rolling out services across Southern Africa to bring hassle-free remittance to other diaspora groups across the region, says Burrell. “We launched services with Nedbank in Malawi recently and are seeing steady growth there. Botswana and Zambia will follow shortly.”
This philosophy shows in the company’s efforts to serve its customers in Shona, and to give discounts on transfer fees the more the service is used.
Burrell says: “We want to build as much benefit to our customer as possible - there are a range of additional benefits coming this year too."
He points out that sending money is a personal thing. Some of the big brands specializing in money transfer can be seen as “faceless behemoths that cannot afford to cater for the individual at a colloquial level,” he says.
Burrell feels these big brands are restricted by a 'one-size-fits-all' template - which needs to work globally.
“With Mukuru (a Shona word for old and respected) we are able to work at a personal level with our customers. The call-centre (which recruits agents who speak the languages of Zimbabwe and now also Malawi) is part of that philosophy, we also hire people who are passionate about how we are helping Zimbabweans abroad.”
Would-be users in South Africa can contact InterAfrica's call centre in Cape Town at 0860MUKURU (0860685878) or visit one of its 20 branches across South Africa, where they can register and complete FICA. InterAfrica's physical branches are located in all major SA cities. Visit http://www.mukuru.com/ia for the branch list.