London-based money transfer services provider WorldRemit has partnered with Zimbabwe-based EcoCash service to launch instant mobile money transfers in Burundi.
This is a first such mobile service available for the landlocked Burundi, population 10-million-plus, according to a statement by WorldRemit.
NBC12 described WorldRemit as “the WhatsApp of money.”
Its instant mobile money transfers to Burundi mean customers can now send money direct to EcoCash mobile wallets – just like an instant message.
WorldRemit says it has customers in 50 countries who can send money direct to EcoCash mobile wallets in Africa, Asia and Oceania, ITWebAfrica reports.
Remittances are estimated to have contributed US$51 million to Burundi’s economy in 2014, according to World Bank reports. WorldRemit and EcoCash want a piece of that.
Significant Burundian communities exist in the U.S., Canada, U.K., France, Belgium, Sweden and Australia.
“Now the 350,000 Burundians who live abroad can make instant, low-cost money transfers direct to the mobiles of their friends and family in Burundi,” the company said, adding that the Econet EcoCash mobile wallet is available to 2 million feature phone and smartphone connections in Burundi, ITWebAfrica reports.
“With only 7 percent of the adult population of Burundi population banked, there are now more mobile money accounts than bank accounts in Burundi,” WorldRemit said.
WorldRemit may be the first remittances service to pair up with a mobile money service in Burundi, but this sort of arrangement is becoming increasingly popular throughout Africa because of the huge role mobile money plays in financial inclusion, TechZim reports.
Other remittance services like Western Union and Mukuru have similar arrangements in other African countries. In Zimbabwe, this includes mobile operators Econet and Telecel. WorldRemit has partnered with other operators, signing with MTN earlier this year to introduce similar services throughout MTN’s 16-country network, according to TechZim.
Mobile Money services such as EcoCash enable people to access financial services through their mobile phones, making the “unbanked” for the very first time the “mobile banked,” ITWebAfrica reports.
“Our partnership with EcoCash means that people will no longer have to send remittances through illegal channels or pay high fees for cash to be picked up at inconvenient agent locations,” said Alix Murphy, senior mobile analyst at WorldRemit. “Burundians can now receive money transfers straight to their mobile phones, just like an instant message.”