SA's FNB sees mobile banking growth in Africa

South African-based First National Bank (FNB) says mobile money and mobile banking are increasingly proving to be the ideal channels to access cash in Africa.

FNB is seeing strong evidence of this from its subsidiaries in Africa. It recorded year on year growth of 376% in Zambia, 277% in Botswana; 204% in Namibia and 473% in Swaziland.

Danny Zandamela, CEO of FNB Africa says: “ When we introduced our cellphone banking solution into other African countries, skeptics were not convinced by this channel as being a successful financial offering. However, the numbers we are seeing are confirmation that the African continent is actually an ideal market for mobile banking services.”

In markets other than South Africa, Botswana currently takes the lead, recording the highest number of cellphone banking users, with 65% of FNB customers in the country using the service.

Botswana is followed by Namibia and Zambia at 47% and Swaziland with 11%. Together the four countries perform in the region of 1.2 million cellphone banking transactions per month, worth approximately R122 million and have processed more than R1.2 billion in the last year. FNB added cellphone banking to Lesotho in May.

FNB says it has has also seen rapid growth in the remittance space since launching eWallet outside of South Africa. In November 2010, the bank launched eWallet in Botswana and to date has recorded over 89 000 transactions amounting to R31 million within the country’ s borders.

“ The need to transfer money quickly and safely from one person to another is and has always been important in emerging economies, and we are glad to be in a position where we are helping people with a financial offering in this way,” says Zandamela.

The success of eWallet in Botswana has resulted in plans to roll out the solution in other African subsidiaries in the near future.

“ Mobile money services offer an inexpensive and convenient method to bridge the gap between the banked and unbanked. The African continent, by pure virtue of being one of the fastest growing mobile phone markets in the world, is the ideal environment for such innovation and it is with this that we coupled Cellphone Banking and eWallet services into our African expansion portfolio,” notes Zandamela.

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