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MTN enters financial services market
August 2005

Standard Bank and MTN today launched MTN Banking - a mobile, person to person banking platform. MTN Banking is a 50/50 joint venture between the two, which sees Standard Bank providing the banking infrastructure (and licence), and MTN the telephony/SMS system.

The MTN banking application is embedded onto the SIM-card for new starter packs - meaning that each new MTN customer automatically has an account application form on their phones. Existing subscribers can download the application.

Registration is simple, and involves verifying the userís cell phone number, and inputting ID numbers and a PIN code. Once done the user phones the MTN Banking call centre, answers four questions, and the account is activated.

The first product launched under the MTN Banking umbrella - MobileMoney - is effectively a savings account that can be accessed via cell phone or a card freely available from MTN/Standard Bank. It has a balance limit of R25 000 per month, and withdrawal limit of R5 000, putting it under the threshold for FICA requirements, so new customers do not need to verify themselves at a branch. The account behaves in the same way as any other, as will all transactions - in other words, you do not have to be an MTN Banking customer to transact with other customers.

Transaction fees are deliberately low (R1 for a balance enquiry, R3 for a payment and R5 for a cash withdrawal) and there is no monthly subscription fee, as the companies are targeting new customers and new revenue streams with this venture.

The deal, say the companies, was two years in the making, and the new venture has cost some R50m to set up. Standard Bank Retail Banking MD, Peter Wharton-Hood, says the company hopes to attract some 350 000 to 500 000 users this year, which will enable it to break even.

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