Thursday, April 5, 2012

A look at Airtel Malawi's Mobile Money

The fact that mobile money transfers have found a fertile ground in East Africa is well documented. M-Pesa, Airtel Money and other mobile money transfers have been well received in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. In fact most of these have their origins in this part of Africa. Malawians now have a chance to reap the benefits of this fast growing mCommerce innovation following the launch of Airtel Money and plans to roll out TNM's Mpamba Mobile Money. This follows failed attempts by E-Wallet (formerly Pay265) to do the same a few years back.

A launch of Airtel Money, graced by Malawi's Finance Minister, set the pace on how Malawians can use their cellphones to do some financial transactions. Airtel Mobile Money will be piloted in some districts before it is rolled out countrywide.

What is Airtel Mobile Money?

Airtel Mobile money is a simple way that allows Airtel Malawi customers to do some financial transactions on their handsets without setting their feet in banking halls or service centres. Customers will be able to:

. Send money from their Airtel Money account to another Airtel Money account using their cellphone.
. Send money from their Airtel Money account to a Bank account
. Send money from their bank account to any Airtel Money account
. Receive money from another Airtel Money account
. Send, receive and purchase airtime.
. Pay for goods, services and settle bills from their Airtel accounts
. Check balances of both Airtel Money and bank accounts on their mobile phone

How to join Airtel Money

To register for Mobile Money, one has to be a Airtel Malawi customer with an active SIM card and it is limited to one account for one customer.

. Fill the Customer Application Forms at any authorised Airtel Money agents found in many places all over Malawi including post offices.
. Customers are also required to attach acceptable proof of identity i.e driving licence, passport or voter registration cards.
. Upon successful account creation, the customer will receive a welcome SMS confirming the cretaion of the account.
. The customer will need to load money in their account to start transacting.

Cash In and Cash Out

Cash stored in Airtel iMoney is called virtual money and can only be cashed in or out at authorised agents all over the country. Cash in is the process of converting cash into Airtel Money's virtual money (more like depositing). Cash out is the process of converting virtual money into cash (more like withdrawing). There is a fee attached to these transactions!

Benefits of using Airtel Money

. Mobile access to financial transactions at anytime
. Convenient payment of services, bills and purchasing of goods
. Secure and faster way to receive, store and transfer money
. Access to airtime 24/7
. Limiting the amount of cash one carries around

Need for more civic education!

Despite the fact that Mobile Money has a lot of benefits and easy to use, it is not easily adopted by the general populace as evidenced in East Africa. One reason why it is hard to be adopted is lack of civic education on its importance and how to use it. Airtel Money will benefit the rural areas who have no access to proper banking services and the urban population which is always in need of accessing financial transactions in time but there is need for a massive campaign to educate them.