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Pan-African banking group Ecobank and major telecom Orange have rolled out a service that will enable Orange Money subscribers to transfer money between their respective accounts.
Mobile remittance is on an up in Africa. Amazingly, of recent, it is sidestepping the issues that hogged it early in its entry, reluctance from users because of security being among the top barriers to entry. The market is warming up to the idea of never setting foot in a bank or carrying money in a wallet.
As this trend keeps on growing, more and more alternatives are popping up from clever startups to traditional banks and other financial services.
Patrick Akinwuntan, Ecobank’s Group Executive in charge of Domestic Banking, recognises this and wants to place Ecobank among the leading players. “Our unique pan-African footprint also enables us to be at the forefront of efforts to develop the market for cross-border mobile financial services in Africa,” he says.
Laurent Paillassot, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Orange in charge of Customer Experience and Mobile Banking, said: “This partnership between Orange and Ecobank will further enrich customer experience. By facilitating exchanges between Ecobank and Orange Money accounts, our customers will be able to conduct financial transactions quickly and in complete security, bringing them the best of both worlds. We want to offer this service wherever it makes sense.”
The partnership’s aim is to facilitate money transfers by allowing Ecobank and Orange customers to top up their Orange e-wallet from their bank account, and vice versa. Customers can also transfer money to any other customer in the country and, in some countries, internationally at any time using their mobile phones without setting foot in a physical bank or ATM. The service also allows customers to view bank account balance and obtain mini-statements by SMS via the service.
The service also allows customers to top up their mobile phones remotely, pay their water bills, electricity and television bills. In the statement about the partnership, Orange notes that “depending on the country, they may also benefit from savings and insurance solutions.”
The service has already been launched in Mali and will be rolled-out in several other African countries, including Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea Conakry, Niger, Senegal and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, during the first half of 2015.