Mobile Banking uptake soars in Africa

South African-based First National Bank (FNB) is seeing a rapid uptake of its mobile banking services in Africa.

According to the bank, it has recorded year-on-year growth of 376% in Zambia, 277% in Botswana, 204% in Namibia and 473% in Swaziland.

Danny Zandamela, CEO of FNB Africa says: “When we introduced our cellphone banking solution into other African countries, sceptics were not convinced by this channel as being a successful financial offering. However, the numbers are seeing confirmation that the African continent is actually an ideal market for mobile banking services.”

Excluding SA, Botswana currently has the highest number of cellphone banking users, with 65% of FNB customers in the country using the service.

Namibia and Zambia both have 47% usage, while Swaziland is on 11%.

Together, the four countries perform in the region of 1.2 million cellphone banking transactions per month, and have processed more than R1.2 billion (US$171.4 million) in the last year.

FNB launched cellphone banking in Lesotho last month, expanding the service to five African countries.

FNB’s eWallet has also been launched outside of SA, with 89 000 transactions recorded for Botswana since November 2010. The bank plans to roll out the service in other countries in the near future.

“The need to transfer money quickly and safely from one person to another is and has always been important in emerging economies, and we are glad to be in a position where we are helping people with a financial offering in this way,” says Zandamela.

“The African continent, by pure virtue of being one of the fastest growing mobile phone markets in the world, is the ideal environment for such innovation, and it is with this that we coupled cellphone banking and eWallet services into our African expansion portfolio.”