SA's MaxiCash details Africa expansion plan

Startup venture MaxiCash, a virtual wallet for African expatriates to send and receive money, is set for a wider rollout across sub-saharan Africa, starting with Kenya at the end of June.

Despite a limited marketing budget, MaxiCash owners say the app has been downloaded more than 150 times after it went live four weeks ago in South Africa.

Co-founder of the venture Tania Mukwamu says while users can send money from anywhere in the world, recipients must be located in a country in which MaxiCash is activated to receive the cash.

Mukwamu says the platform is wholly African owned and their strategy is to partner with investors who share a similar vision of the continent's infrastructure.

Viability of expansion

The company is looking to enable more African countries including Kenya, Nigeria, Cameroon, Zambia, Senegal, and Burundi from the end of June into July.

The failure of Vodacom's M-Pesa mobile money product in South Africa has not discouraged Mukwamu - and she is looking to leverage growth prospects in Africa's increasingly popular mobile money market.

Mukwamu says MaxiCash anticipates success in Kenya because they have integrated with local mobile money solutions when it comes to payouts.

The strategy is to use digital tools and ensure physical presence in more challenging countries. "In Nigeria and a few other countries I see some challenges because people have not warmed up to mobile money. We have brought in PR and marketing agencies and we work closely with local entities like the Chamber of commerce and Embassies in order to become more visible. Many Africans prefer to see a face and are not really persuaded by the app and social media."

Mukwamu's optimism is supported by research conducted by auditing firm Mazars, which has found that revenue from mobile money is expected to double to US$1.3 billion in the next four years.

The research cites a Frost & Sullivan summary regarding the mobile money sector. "...a growing range of mobile banking apps is appearing on the market. Companies offering these services will continue to face challenges; but the barriers are overshadowed by the potential rewards for economies and for individuals, as mobile money provides an alternative for the rural poor who lack access to traditional banks."