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Zap, HF sign deal

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 19 – Zain Kenya mobile money transfer subscribers can now withdraw their money from any Housing Finance branch countrywide following an agreement between both companies.

The partnership aims at increasing the Zap network, currently at 6,000 agents, by increasing withdrawal points across the country.

It also seeks to address liquidity issues experienced by most Zap agents unable to serve customers due to lack of money. Speaking during the signing of the agreement, Zain Kenya Chief Executive Officer Rene Meza said the deal was in line with the company’s goal of becoming a leading mobile commerce service provider.

“As we move forward with the business, we plan to continue strengthening our services to become one of the leading and comprehensive mobile commerce solutions in this country,” Mr Meza said.

Housing Finance Managing Director Frank Ireri believes the partnership is part of the growth strategy focused on increasing its income by diversifying the company’s business activities.

“The Zap service provides a source of additional fee income for Housing Finance as well as affording uss increased cross-selling opportunities for our various products including our core savings and mortgage products,” Mr Ireri said.

The service will be available in Housing Finance’s 10 branches located in Nairobi (four branches), Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret, Nyeri, Thika and Nakuru (one branch each). 

With growth of mobile banking in Kenya, Mr Ireri feels this latest move would help the company facilitate the service.

“We anticipate being able to use Zap to introduce mobile banking, which will be phase two of the relationship,” said Mr Ireri.

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Mobile Money Banking presents an opportunity for banks to grow their customer base by offering value-added, innovative services. 

This latest move seems to have intensified the race by mobile service providers operating money transfer services to secure ‘super agents’ from financial institutions.

Just last week, Safaricom announced its partnership with Equity bank allowing customers access to their money from any of Equity’s Automated Teller Machine (ATM) countrywide.

According to Mr Meza, Zap has moved close to Sh1 billion in person-to-person transfers with a customer base of close to 400,000 users since its launch in March 2009.

Central Bank of Kenya figures show that Zain and Safaricom transferred Sh318.4 billion through their mobile money transfer services up to June last year reflecting 421 percent growth from the Sh61.1 billion transferred in 2008.

The growth could be attributed to the demand by the unbanked population to have some form of access to credit.

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