Launch of SA’s first mobile-only bank imminent
The launch of South Africa’s first mobile-only bank in partnership with the likes of telecommunications operator MTN and retail chains such as Pick n Pay is imminent, say people close to the matter
Named Tyme, or ‘Take Your Money Everywhere’, the new bank could be launched this week, a source close to the matter has told ITWeb Africa.
According to leaked screenshots in the media of the Tyme website last week, the mobile-only bank is a distribution channel of the South African Bank of Athens. The same leaks revealed that the web address for the bank's website looks likely to be http://tyme-capital.net/.
Services on offer from Tyme include being able to send money to anyone with a South African cell phone number, buying prepaid airtime and electricity, depositing or withdrawing cash at any Pick n Pay or Boxer till-point, paying for goods at any of these retail chain stores, receiving mini-statements and having access to SMS notifications for all transactions.
Signing up for the bank’s services requires that customers be 16 years or older, and have a valid South African identification document number. No monthly fees or minimum balances are required for a Tyme account either.
ITWeb Africa has further learnt from a source with knowledge of the matter that the mobile bank’s services were supposed to go live last week internally for Pick n Pay staff.
On the sidelines of MTN’s launch of its new business offerings Wednesday, though, MTN SA chief financial officer Zunaid Bulbulia told ITWeb Africa that he cannot comment on the soon-to-be-launched mobile bank or MTN's exact involvement.
However, he did say that the MTN is “dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s” regarding its involvement with the bank.
MTN, which reported last month that it has just over 182 million subscribers in the Middle East and Africa, has already rolled out mobile money services in markets such as Nigeria, Zambia and Swaziland.
And mobile money offerings in Africa have taken off in markets such as Kenya, where operator Safaricom’s M-Pesa service has spawned off a booming industry.
Statistics from the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) have said that mobile money subscriptions in Kenya have risen this year by 12% to 19.5 million users. Kenyans also deposited 672 billion shillings ($8 billion) through mobile money services in the year ending June 2012, recording a 38% jump from the 486 billion shillings ($5.7 billion) deposited in the previous year, according to the CCK.
Furthermore, a 2009 National Financial Access Survey in the East African nation said that 32% of Kenya's bankable population is still out of reach of financial services. Kenya has a population of 40 million, says the World Bank.
However, mobile money services have not taken off in South Africa to the same extent as in Kenya.
South Africa, compared to Kenya, has a highly developed banking sector and a large number of banked individuals. According to FinMark Trust’s FinScope South Africa survey released this year, 22.5 million South Africans are banked. South Africa’s census 2011 results say the country’s population is just over 50 million.