TradeInvest Africa (Cape Town)

Africa: Zain Expands 'Zap' Mobile Commerce Service to Malawi, Niger And Sierra Leone

Zain has announced the expansion of 'Zap', its mobile commerce service to the African nations of Niger, Sierra Leone and in the boundaries of a full commercial pilot in Malawi.

The move follows the successful launch of the service in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in February 2009 where more than 10 million people have already used the service.

Zap is a comprehensive and accessible mobile commerce service in Africa, now serving over 150 million people in six countries on the continent, allowing them, in many cases for the first time, access to advanced financial services through their mobile phones. This innovative mobile commerce service was introduced in these three countries in partnership with leading international banks, allowing Zain customers in Zap-enabled countries to use their mobile phone to:

  • Withdraw cash or pay for goods and services, school fees and utility bills, including electricity and water
  • Receive money from or send money to friends and family
  • Send and receive money to their bank accounts
  • Top-up their or someone else's airtime
  • Manage their bank accounts

Zap is also part of Zain's 'One Network' platform, meaning that customers can benefit from all of the Zap features when travelling to an associate Zain 'One Network' country. The platform allows travelling customers to move across geographic borders without roaming surcharges, make calls/SMS at local rates, receive incoming calls for free as well as recharge their mobile phones with locally purchased top up cards.

"The expansion of this revolutionary mobile commerce service to Malawi, Niger and Sierra Leone is an extremely important step in pushing the boundaries of mobile communications," said Dr Saad Al Barrak, Zain Group CEO. "We are proud to play a role in improving people's lives by giving 150 million people access to effective and efficient financial services, fulfilling our brand promise of 'A wonderful world'."

The Zap mobile commerce service 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 24/7 through their handset, providing the convenience of accessing cash anytime, anywhere. The service is supported on all handsets including ultra low cost handsets (ULCH), which Zain is successfully rolling out across the continent.

"We already saw impact Zap has made the economies of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda," added Dr Al Barrak. "We are confident that we will see a similar impact in Malawi, Niger and Sierra Leone, where formal banking services are largely restricted to urban hubs. Together with our financial partners, we have ensured that Zap mobile commerce services meet all the required in-country banking regulations as stipulated by the respective Central Banks."

Zain plans on rolling out mobile commerce services in all its mobile operations on both continents in the future, subject to regulatory approvals.

The international banks that Zain cooperates within each country through the 'Zap' mobile commerce service are as follows:

a) Malawi: National Bank of Malawi (NBM) and NBS Bank

b) Niger: EcoBank

c) Sierra Leone: Zenith Bank

d) Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda: CitiBank and Standard Chartered

In addition, EcoBank, Zenith, NBM, CitiBank and Standard Chartered will facilitate payments and settlement processes in accordance with the terms and conditions stipulated by the banking regulations in their respective countries.

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