BTCL eyeing M-PESA mobile money


Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited will soon launch a mobile money application, in the mold of the hugely successful M-PESA.BTCL chief executive officer Paul Taylor, said last week, that going forward, the telecommunications provider, which holds 17 percent of the domestic mobile market, will tap into its relationship with leading British telecommunications provider, Vodafone, to bring a mobile money service.

M-Pesa is a mobile phone-based money transfer, financing and microfinance service, launched in 2007 by Vodafone for Kenya and Tanzania’s largest mobile network operators.“In the next month or so, we will make a decision on the kind of mobile money application to use,” said Taylor.Taylor said that the mobile money service would be part of an agreement with leading British telecommunications provider, Vodafone, who have established a relationship with BTCL.

In March 2015, Vodafone and BTCL entered into a co-operation agreement which established a framework of terms and conditions giving Vodafone and BTCL the option to cooperate and deploy certain products and services (including third party products and services); enabling BTCL to gain access to the Vodafone knowledge bank; and permitting the parties to carry out capability assessments and co-operate on procurement for the benefit of BTCL in Botswana for a period of three years.

The relationship between the two parties was further reinforced in October 2015 by Vodafone and BTCL entering into a global carrier master services agreement in terms of which the parties may provide telecommunications services to each other.Taylor said that the Corporation had withdrawn the previous home grown mobil money application, SMEGA after it failed to penetrate the market.It has since expanded to Afghanistan, South Africa, India and in 2014 to Eastern Europe. M-Pesa allows users to deposit, withdraw, transfer money and pay for goods and services seamlessly, with a mobile device.

M-PESA is widely lauded for bringing the advantages of formal financial services and inclusion to sections of societies in developing world, that were previously unbanked. The service which surpasses even first world financial applications, made Kenya the leader in mobile, with 20 million users and 40 percent of the country’s GDP passing through it.Results from a Finscope Consumer Survey Botswana for 2014 showed that although about 94 percent of individuals in Botswana have access to cellphones, only 22 percent of the population use mobile money. Of the 22 percent of the population who do use mobile money, 77 percent claim that it is convenient to use while 36 percent claim that it is cheap. The study has revealed 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 that they are not interested in it, while 32 percent claim that they do not have enough information about it.