30 March 2013

Tanzania: Mobile Phone Innovations Help Provide More Services

INNOVATION especially that closely related to the Internet and smart phones is fast becoming household words in many urban homes in Tanzania. Tigo Tanzania is one company that boasts for being one of the most innovative telecommunications company on the land.

Staff writer MASEMBE TAMBWE probes into one of its biggest creations yet when Tigo launched the first mobile life insurance scheme.

BASED on the current rate of access to mobile phones, the Tanzanian market shows potential for further m-money adoption. Sixty-three per cent of surveyed households have access to a mobile phone.

Fifty-six per cent of households own at least one active SIM card which is required for opening an m-money account. Even among rural, unbanked and poor households (those living on less than $2 a day), about one-half of households have access to a mobile phone and own a SIM card.

According to a mobile money report of 2012, based on users' perspectives, the leading challenge to m-money uptake is the inconsistent service quality offered by m-money agents. The large majority of registered users reported they had encountered problems with agents.

In particular, they cited agents' absenteeism and insufficient e-float or cash to help with a transaction. Another impediment to m-money uptake suggested by the survey findings is an insufficient understanding of m-money applications by potential and current users.

"M-money is not a regular feature of households' lending and insurance activities but is used in some cases. Currently, 6 per cent of all households that own insurance, 44 and 11 per cent of households that have engaged in any type of loan-related activities, 45 used an m-money account for related transactions, including credit and payment transfers," the report read in part. Eight per cent of all surveyed households owned any type of insurance in the past six months.

The majority of those households have only one type of insurance, with medical insurance mentioned most frequently (6 per cent).

The percentage of households reporting any other insurance is at or below 2 per cent. In a bid to serve the quality life to Tanzanians, Tigo Tanzania in association with its partners Bima, MicroEnsure and Golden Crescent made history in June 2011 and launched the first mobile life insurance in Tanzania, called Tigo Bima.

In November 2012, Tigo followed that up by launching a first of its kind revolutionary product: a Life and Hospitalization coverage available via mobile phone in Tanzania for all its subscribers. The life and hospitalization product offers customers a wide variety of coverage levels to cater for all Tanzanians.

Prices start as low as at 750/- (Bati Package) per month which entitles customers to 100,000/- Life Insurance Cover and 50,000/- Hospitalization Insurance Cover annually right up to the highest being 10,000/-, (Tanzanite Package) offering 1m/- Life Insurance Cover and 1m/- Hospitalization Insurance Cover annually.

One of the beneficiaries of the product Ms Beatrice Abraham, a Dar es Salaam resident said that, she found out about Tigo Bima through a friend and registered for cover in December 2012 where she chose the premium Tanzanite cover so that she could enjoy the best possible coverage.

Ms Abraham, who lives in Mbezi Louis, with her young daughter and husband, gets treated at Ubungo Kibangu Mission Hospital. Ms Abraham felt ill on February 1, 2013 and went to Ubungo Kibangu Mission Hospital where, upon examination, was admitted at the hospital for 12 days.

According to her, when she found out that she was to be admitted, she notified Tigo Bima customer care unit and was walked through how to lodge a claim.

"After I was discharged, I collected all the necessary claim documentations and sent them to the Tigo Bima offices and within 10 days, all my benefits were paid out to me!

I can't overstate the great role played by Tigo in my life at my most time of need. "Falling sick has always been my worst nightmare since I had no clue how I will manage to foot the bills.

This kind of insecurity drove me crazy. But now I have some peace of mind knowing that I have health security incase of hospitalization or even when I pass away! And to think that all this is possible for only 10,000/- is incredible!" she said.

The launch of the life and hospitalization product followed the triumph of the original free life insurance product that the same partners have been running since June 2011.

This product is the first of its kind in the world, making Tigo Tanzania the first mobile operator to offer such an innovative platform for health insurance.

Tigo Bima now allows customers to choose a level of coverage based on their personal preferences enabling them to obtain insurance cover upon their passing or upon being hospitalized.

The hospitalization insurance covers customers for up to 30 nights in hospital via a nightly payout system of a lump sum of cash irrespective of the ailment that the customer suffered.

The simplicity and affordability of payment makes the product a great success. Customers select their preferred mode of payment as they can either be deducted from their Tigo Pesa account or from their Tigo airtime balance.

Having never had any insurance before, Ms Abraham was very glad that her first experience resulted in such a positive outcome. Upon receiving her money, she continuously urge for more people to register with Tigo Bima because of the peace of mind and the great help that the cover offers in a time of need.

Customers can make claims by phoning the dedicated claims line on 065 844 4422 where they can check their cover level, the hospital network and change certain details through a USSD menu available on their phone by dialing the USSD short code *148*15#.

The product is made possible through collaboration between Tigo, who provide the mobile expertise, Bima who are responsible for the sales, distribution and technical platform, MicroEnsure who provide the claims management and the product is underwritten by Golden Crescent Assurance.

"The product aims to provide the underserved Tanzanian market with affordable options for both health and life insurance. Tigo cares deeply for its customers and therefore works hard to come up with products and services that not only change the way people communicate but also ensure that through communication they live better lives," said Mr William Mpinga, Tigo's brand manager.

Mr Mpinga said that they would continuously strive to provide affordable quality products so that their customers get value beyond their investment in their products.

The product is available to all pre-paid Tigo subscribers in both its life insurance and hospitalization cover within a network of 14 reputable hospitals for Dares- Salaam region and would gradually be extended to the entire country.

Copyright © 2013 Tanzania Daily News. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.