Orange provides opportunity for the unbanked and under-served

Orange has reaffirmed its commitment to assume a leadership position in providing mobile phone based financial services to Botswana through the Orange Money portfolio.

The company on Friday launched its Orange Money service Visa card that will allow customers through their Orange Money accounts,  24-hour access to their funds by withdrawing money at ATMs and making point of sale or online purchases wherever Visa is accepted.

Despite  having more than 10 commercial banks in the country, there were only  154, 000 credit cards issued in Botswana in December 2010, according to Bank of Botswana (BoB) statistics. This means that on average, only one in ten Batswana can buy goods and services or transact online.

Director of Orange Money at Orange Botswana, Moussa Dao said; “We have virtually overnight increased the potential number of people in Botswana who can call themselves credit card users from 154, 000 back to 2010 to an estimated 300, 000 today, counting all Orange Money users. This has huge potential to help everyday people to do transactions on the internet and will drive economic growth and financial inclusion by migrating cash spent through electronic payments.”

BoB Governor, Linah Mohohlo who graced the event shared that financial inclusion is about providing an opportunity for the unbanked and financially under-served members of the community to participate in the formal financial system thus opening avenues for entering the economic mainstream.

“It is no surprise, therefore, that financial inclusion of the poor has become an important component of public policymaking. As developing countries move towards middle income status, financial inclusion can only be an imperative undertaking,” she stressed.

It is common knowledge that almost half of the working age population in Botswana do not have access to formal banking and financial services, in part because of limited banking facilities, particularly in rural and remote areas of the country. Mohohlo said the result is that the high level of financial exclusion exposes consumers to unregulated informal services and inferior substitutes.

She further said that “there is also the resultant exorbitant costs to borrowers as well as financing that is usually too short in duration for the much needed productive investment activity. These constraints will diminish progressively with the adoption of technology that provides impetus to financial inclusion. In particular, the high mobile telephony penetration in Botswana lends itself as an effective launching pad for improving access to banking and financial services.”

As the inter-connectedness between rural and urban sectors of the economy deepens, Mohohlo said money transfer technology and payments products will become indispensable components of the strategy for improving rural livelihoods.