Bharti brings mobile banking to its African territories
Forms alliance with pan-African financial services player Ecobank, while in India, BSNL moves into m-payments via post office deal
Published: 7 June, 2011
READ MORE: Africa & Middle East | Bharti Airtel | Billing
Mobile payments were gaining ground in emerging economies long before Google Wallet, as operators like Vodafone tapped the 'unbanked' market. Sub-Saharan Africa has been a particularly interesting region, and Indian major Bharti Airtel has formed an initiative to address the boom.
Bharti has signed a memorandum of understanding with pan-African banking group Ecobank to develop and promote mobile payments and banking across 14 countries where their activities overlap. The Indian cellco operates in 16 African markets following its acquisition of Zain's sub-Saharan interests last year while Ecobank is present in 30 countries.
The new partners will launch a range of consumer and business-to-business mobile services under the brand names Ecobank Mobile and Airtel Money. The latter is already a brand in Bharti's homeland, where it launched m-banking last year.
Also in India, state-owned carrier BSNL has formed its own joint venture geared to m-payments. It has created the alliance with Indian Post and the pair plan to launch a mobile money transfer service, initially in Punjab and Bihar. Nationwide coverage is expected within two years.
Senders of money will have to visit a post office, where staff will have cellphones apps to
facilitate the transfer and carry out security checks. Recipients can receive money within 10 minutes from another post office branch, taking on the well known services of Western Union.
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