After the huge success of its eWallet solution, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) this week announced the launch of yet another mobile banking solution termed eWallet bulk send, which it described as another first within the local banking sector.
The Bank has cemented itself as a leader in innovation, leveraging on technology and mobile applications to gain a competitive edge over its rivals. A significant population of Botswana owns and uses cell phones and FNBB took advantage of this scenario to introduce much needed mobile banking solutions that will offer convenience to customers, ease transactions and improve financial inclusion. The Bank has over the years shown considerable interest in mobile money, indicating last year that the extensive mobile penetration in Botswana presents opportunities for further growth. The launch of the new eWallet bulk send solution therefore affirms the Bank’s commitment to cementing its position as the market leader in mobile banking.
eWallet is considered a simple solution which caters for the customers’ need to access finances instantly over a cellphone. The untapped potential in mobile banking was confirmed by the 2014 Finscope Botswana survey, which indicated that while 94 percent of the population have access to cell phones, only 22 percent use mobile money. Of this 22 percent, 77 percent believe mobile money is convenient to use while 36 percent claim that it’s cheap.
“The study has revealed that that there is an increase in formal remittances due to mobile money usage. The study also showed that of the 78 percent of the population who do not use mobile money, 38 percent claim they are not interested in it while 32 percent say they do not have information about it,” read the Finscope survey.
These figures demonstrate the potential for mobile money to become an alternative source of growth in the banking sector outside of traditional products like ATMs and debit cards. The keen focus by FNBB on mobile money suggests that future growth could be driven by mobile money. The bank disclosed last year that more than P2.7 billion has been sent to recipients through its eWallet solution since inception in 2010. 40 percent (or P1bln) of the P2.7bln was sent in the financial year 2014/15 alone, proving that mobile money is fast becoming an accepted replacement for person to person cash payments.
FNBB highlighted that a higher usage is observed in main urban centers because of population density. Again, the mobile money solution has a wider use other than money transfers as it can also be used to purchase prepaid airtime and electricity. However, said FNBB, it was outside of the main cities that the real impact of using an eWallet for remittance was evident; with money being withdrawn in outlying areas such as Pandamatenga, Kazungula, Hukuntsi and Charleshill. With the enhancement of its eWallet solution, FNBB is no doubt sending a strong signal to the rest of the banking sector that mobile money remains an untapped but lucrative market. This could bring back excitement into the banking sector, which has in the past few years lost its flavor.