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Archive for September, 2010

30 Sep
A cellphone-based system that allows people to transfer money and pay bills without a bank account is transforming business in Kenya.Mobile money transfer services are accessed via an application installed on the user’s SIM card.

The user can create a free account and deposit money into it for free with registered agents at retail outlets. They may be gas stations, supermarkets, banks or micro-finance providers or small and medium-sized businesses. No minimum account balance is required.The user can then transfer up to $440 from the account to someone else — including someone who doesn’t have a cellphone. The recipient provides identification and picks up the cash from another registered agent.

Users can deposit and withdraw cash, pay water and electricity bills, pay their children’s school fees, get paid by their employers or buy extra airtime for their phone.Not even agents themselves need a computer or internet service — they can record the customer’s transactions on their own mobile phones.Deposits are typically free, but a fee of about 30 cents to $5 is charged for most other transactions.

The cellphone has revolutionized the way business is done in Kenya!!!

 
 

28 Sep

Sending or receiving money for either payment of salaries, settlement of business transactions, payment of school fees, or for family support is common both for businesses and individuals. It requires efficient,reliable and affordable money transfer services whereby money can be deposited in one location and withdrawn in another in both urban and rural areas.

Structural weaknesses in the financial industry in Kenya, however, limit the access to money transfer services, especially in rural areas and for low-income people. This is because banks are concentrated mainly in urban centers and have conditions that constitute barriers to the use of their services; also because the cancellation of services such as the telegraphic transfers by the Kenya Postal Corporation have left fewer service options.

Generally, commercial banks are the major players in money transfer business in Kenya, servicing mainly large users and, to a smaller extent, low-income users. Among the commercial bank instruments, telegraphic transfers, electronic funds transfers and bank drafts are typically used for large value transfers, as they offer
the cheapest service for the transfer of large amounts. In addition, bank cheques are the preferred and often required means of payment for school fees. Western Union and similar services like mukuru.com are used almost exclusively to receive money rather than send it.

The findings indicate that there is an unmet demand for efficient, reliable and affordable money transfer services. This is signaled by the common use of informal means, closure or deterioration of previously well used services which have left a gap, and also by new entries into the market who can only be used to receive money and not transfer it.

 
 

Attributes that customers consider when evaluating a new money transfer service

22 Sep

In every country, mechanisms for bill payment, money transfer, and storing money have existed long before the advent of mobile money. When mobile money services are introduced customers compare the new option with existing alternatives . There are five key attributes that customers consider when evaluating a new money transfer service: its convenience, speed, safety/reliability, ease of use, and cost. Importantly,customers rank these attributes in different ways : some care a lot about one feature, others about another.

Operators need to be sure that their money transfer service will be superior to existing options in the marketplace along at least one of these dimensions:it should be more convinient,or cheaper,or faster ,or more reliable,or easier to use . A new offering doesn’t need to beat the competition along all of these dimensions in order to be successful: given that not all customers value the same thing, simply offering a service that is superior along one dimension will inspire customers for whom that feature is most important to switch. And indeed, since the design process for any service usually involves making tradeoffs between these attributes, companies usually have to pick and choose which attributes they will optimize and which they won’t.

Operators need to realistically assess whether they can offer a service that will beat the competition in all key attribute areas.Our experience suggests that it will not always be possible to beat all competitors along every dimension as Safaricom did in Kenya: in some markets, pre-existing money transfer options are better than they were in Kenya. But this need not deter operators. What’s important is to design a service that does beat the competition on the attributes that will resonate with target customers.

If, say, the national postal service offers a popular money transfer service in its branches that is cheap—i.e., so cheap that a mobile operator would be unable to match the price while still turning a profit—but slow and inconvenient, operators should try to find a service design that optimizes for speed (which is one of the natural features of mobile money transfer) and convenience (by focusing on a large agent network).Operators need to understand the preferences of their target customers. In the scenario described above, it would be important for an operator to make sure that there is a critical mass of consumers who would value speed and convenience enough to pay a bit more before going to market—lest they be unhappily surprised to find no such willingness to pay.

The last thing to note is that this methodology applies as well to bill payments and other mobile money services as it does to money transfer. For any service that can be offered on a mobile money platform, there will be competition—and understanding that competition is the first step to beating it.

 
 

Receive money from friends and family in the U.K!

21 Sep

People living in Kenya can now receive money from friends and family in the United Kingdom directly to their M-PESA accounts.This makes listed telecoms firm Safaricom the first company to offer a mobile based international money transfer service, which allows registered M-PESA customers to receive remittances via their mobile phones.

The launch of the international component of M-PESA, the firm’s pioneering and globally-acclaimed money transfer service, follows a successful pilot project with selected outlets in the UK.Three agents have been involved with conducting the pilots for over three months and a total of 19 outlets were carefully selected to cover areas with relatively high number of Kenyans, including Reading, London, Luton, Wembley and Glasgow.

They comprise a variety of shops including forex agents, news agents and grocery shops that are commonly visited by Kenyans and whom are registered with HM Revenue & Customs in the UK as money services businesses.To send money using M-PESA, the sender in UK will be required to identify himself/herself and furnish the agent with the recipient’s name, Kenyan mobile number and the amount being sent in Sterling Pounds.Exchange rate conversion to Kenya Shillings is done at the prevailing rate and the agent will proceed to send the Kenya Shillings direct to the recipient’s M-PESA account.

There is no registration fee to either party for using M-PESA’s international service. The sender will pay a competitive transaction fee ranging from £4 – £6.90, depending on the amount sent and the outlet at which they are transacting.For example, you can send up to £150 for as little as £3pounds with Mukuru.com.A major benefit to users of remitting money to Kenya direct to a customers M-PESA account is in the convenience to the recipient of collecting their money.

Registered M-PESA customers are able to withdraw cash affordably at their convenience at over 12,000 M-PESA Agents countrywide.They are also able to use M-PESA to pay bills, purchase airtime and to perform local money transfers

 
 

What is the best way to send money from the USA to Kenya

20 Sep

There seems to be a lot of people remitting money to Kenya from the United states and we have been asked what we think is the best way to send money to Kenya from there.

There are the old dog’s of remittence who are tried and tested and seem to have a monoply on sending money such as western union. whose process is as follows

WESTERN UNION
To complete such a transfer, go to an American Western Union office, use a phone service or use the website. Western Union offices are typically located in check cashing businesses, supermarkets and convenience stores. Pay for your money transfer in cash or with a debit card. To send money by phone or online, you need a credit or debit card.

Western Union will send the money transfer to a Western Union agent in Kenya. The recipient then needs to go to the Western Union agent with the transfer confirmation number. Most Kenyan Western Union agents are located at banks and post offices, but you can check the Western Union website for all agents in an area.

MUKURU.COM

This is an established remittance company  that has been around for a while and is trusted by people who send money from the  diaspora. They have been remitting money predominantly to Zimbabwe  and they have now  branched to Kenya in addition to South Africa on the African continent and  they seem to be really doing well.

Their service seems to be really swift once you have gotten past their very secure security checks, which i must say are a pleasure especially with all the credit card fraud that happens out here. Basically once you have placed your order  you need to check your bank statement for the secret amount their automated system would have billed you. When you verify it after looking at your statement they then release the funds to Kenya and you details are saved and secure in their system.

It sound long but it saves you the hassle of worrying about someone stealing your card and them using it on their website, so GREAT SECURITY!. This is all done via your credit or debit card!!!

So go to their website an check it out for yourself.

 
 

A new venture by Telkom!

17 Sep

According to a recent article on mobile money transfers by Bloomberg, Kenya which is home of the wildly successful M-Pesa, is set to get a new mobile money service  run by a joint venture company owned by the country’s government and France Telecom  by the end of the year.

Mobile-phone operators in East Africa’s biggest economy are diversifying into banking products to fill a gap in a country where four out of every five people don’t have a bank account. Penetration of mobile phones in Kenya is about 51 percent in a population of 38.6 million, according to the Communications Commission of Kenya.Telkom Kenya will also compete with the country’s second- biggest mobile-phone operator Zain whose money-transfer service is called Zap.Zain entered the market with Zap, allowing customers to use their mobiles to pay bills and for goods and services, make peer-to-peer payments, manage bank accounts, withdraw cash and top-up and transfer airtime to others.

Now, the government and France Telecom joint venture, Telkom Kenya, is making a move with Orange Money. The firm has partnered with a local bank on the service that will enable users to send money from abroad, carry out electronic banking, and pay for goods and services online, as well as transfer funds locally.Orange Money aims to offer a brilliant service which surpasses all its rivals!!!

 
 

16 Sep

Mukuru.com is an online remittance company based in London in the UK.They offer customers all over the world the opportunity to send money, goods and services to their relatives or friends back home to countries like Zimbabwe,South Africa and have recently launched their services in Kenya.By simply registering on their website online,you can place your order  and send money instantly to a MPESA registered Safaricom phone,and your recipient can collect the cash from over 11,000 MPESA outlets nationwide.With mukuru.com you can also make the payment in the comfort and convenience of your home by making the payment with your debit or credit card.

Mukuru.com enables you to support your loved ones in a cost-effective manner. Considering how hard people work ,it is their goal to facilitate extremely convenient value transfers at the minimum level of cost. Mukuru.com is a quick and easy method of purchasing goods or services. You can place the order online or alternatively call their  customer support team that can help you transact entirely over the telephone.

As they say it at mukuru.com SIGN UP…SEND IT…SORTED!!!

 
 

Improving economies

14 Sep

An article i read  earlier this week had interesting facts and figures regarding remittances and stated that Kenyans living abroad sent home $52.7 million in April, an increase of 9.6 percent from a year earlier.This was largely due to the fact that the economies of countries that contribute the bulk of remittances improved and in turn increased our inflows in the last four months.

The pick-up in April 2010 can indirectly be attributed to improving economic conditions in the regions of origin and improved prospects for economic recovery at home. Kenyan residents of North America and Europe together provide 82 percent of remittance flows to the East African country.Economic growth in Kenya, East Africa’s largest economy, may accelerate 4 percent this year and 5 percent next year as improved rainfall boosts agricultural output and stable power supplies help manufacturers.

The economy of Kenya, which relies on agriculture expanded  last year amid a prolonged drought, and since Kenya is the world’s largest exporter of black tea we will see an improvement in the economy as improved rainfall boasts agriculture.

 
 

Zain launches Zap

13 Sep

Kenya’s second largest mobile telecommunications provider announced that it plans to bring mobile banking to over 100 million people in East Africa with the launch of its new service, Zap.

With the most comprehensive and accessible mobile banking features currently available on the continent, Zap will be initially available in Kenya and Tanzania and will shortly launch in Uganda. Zain’s Zap will provide millions of people with access to banking for the very first time.Zain is partnering with leading international and regional banks including Citigroup and Standard Chartered Bank to launch Zap, which will allow Zain customers in the three countries to use their mobile phone to:

* Pay bills and pay for goods and services
* Receive money and send money to friends and family
* Withdraw cash
* Top up their own airtime account or top up someone else’s
* Send airtime to Zain customers in East Africa
* Manage their bank accounts

The Zap service will also be included as part of the company’s pioneering One Network service, meaning that Zain customers will be able to send airtime to other Zain customers across Kenya , Tanzania and Uganda . One Network allows travelling customers to move across geographic borders without roaming surcharges, recharge their mobile phones with locally purchased top up cards and receive calls for free.

Zap will provide customers with increased security and flexibility, reducing the need to carry cash and ensuring payments between friends and family remain secure. A password is needed for each transaction and the service is protected through a state-of-the-art security application. Customers will also benefit from being able to access the service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through their handset menu and enjoy the convenience of having access to cash anytime, anywhere.

This is definitely set to affect the mobile internet landscape in Kenya in some ways. Most Kenyans will probably want to see better pricing for this service. Most Kenyans sentiment is that competitors pricing are fairly highly priced and if Zain could introduce similar quality services at a lower price range then we could definitely see a shift among consumers.

 
 

Money Transfer Companies

08 Sep
There are several money-transfer companies through which you can conveniently transfer money to Kenya.Some of these companies include PayPal, MoneyBookers and Mukuru.com.You can transfer money through your bank account, credit card or debit card, whichever you prefer. The best thing about this type of money transfer is that you just need to know the recipient’s email address and mobile number. You don’t deal with the recipient’s bank account details as it is taken care of by the company itself.
You simply need to:

  • Determine how much you want to send to your recepient in Kenya.You can do this by using the online calculator in the Resources section.
  • Open your Web browser and navigate to the money-transfer company’s website that you have decided to transfer the money with.To be able to transfer  money, you have to register first, so click the “Sign Up” link button
  • Fill out the registration form by providing your name, country, email address, contact number and payment details. You can pay through credit card, debit card or bank account.
  • Click on “Send Money” button after you have signed up.
  • After you have confirmed the transfer, the money-transfer company informs the recipient through email or sms on the collection details

Money transfers  companies are efficient and  eliminate time constraints as you can place orders and make your payments online and your recipients are notified instantly!!!