By Bonnie Modiakgotla
First National Bank Botswana, the biggest commercial bank in the country, appears fed up with mobile service providers that have encroached in what was traditionally the bank’s playground. The bank is responding with a similar product of its own.
The bank this week announced that it is set to launch a new product called Cash Plus, which allows both FNBB and non-FNBB customers to perform transactional financial services such as cash deposit, cash withdrawal and prepaid purchases of electricity and airtime.
The new product’s offerings will be dispensed through various merchants across Botswana, with the merchants referred to as Cash Plus agents.
FNBB becomes the first bank to take on mobile service providers who have found a niche market in financial intermediation, a stronghold of banks. FNBB’s new product follows an already existing script that has been heralded by Mascom and Orange.
Mascom was the first to introduce mobile money which allowed people to deposit and withdraw money through their service Myzaka. The service does not require the customer to have a bank account. However, mascom has been overtaken by their rival Orange Botswana which has deployed extensive resources to prop up its money service known as Orange Money.
Orange Money now commands a huge share of mobile money ÔÇô at 73 percent – thanks its part to technology support from its parent company and also to the strategic partnerships it has been forming. Orange money is available through various merchants across the country, and they have partnered with the global payments giant Visa, allowing Orange money users to withdraw cash from ATMs. The mobile service provider has also partnered with Standard Chartered bank and Barclays Bank Botswana.
While FNBB’s new product is not bringing anything new to table, the bank will likely capture new business to its popular brand and its extensive resources; the bank has superior technology and an already existing huge customer base. BeMobile, a mobile network operator, is also expected to re-launch its money service.
Bank of Botswana has been in support of mobile money services, explaining that such services enhance financial inclusions as they allow for the unbanked to be able to deposit and withdraw money without having to set up an account.