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Kenya mobile firm launches new service

NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 23- Mobile telecommunications operator Zain has launched an international top-up service that aims at tapping into remittances from the Diaspora.

Zain Kenya Head of Corporate Communication Michael Okwiri said on Tuesday that the new service aims at giving those abroad an extra avenue to channel funds to family and friends back home.

“What we are doing is giving people outside Kenya (an opportunity) to communicate with their relatives,” Mr Okwiri said. 

Central Bank of Kenya statistics show that remittance in 2009 stood Sh47.1 billion, with North America accounting for 51 percent while Europe contributed 27 percent.

Going by the statistics, Mr Okwiri anticipates high demand for the service.

“We want to make sure we are at the forefront of any increased activity in the Diaspora,” he said. 
He said the service would be accessible online through the Zain website.

“To buy a top up, users will be required to register on our website and give credit card details. You will then select three numbers which you will be able to send airtime directly to,” he said.

The three preferred numbers can however be changed from time to time to allow others benefit from the service. Those using the service will be able to top up specified mobile numbers with defined airtime values ranging from Sh1,500 to Sh3,500.

Top up will be through functional credit cards in 16 countries in Europe and America and will be subject to exchange rate values at the time.

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Participating countries include Canada, The US, Denmark, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Luxemburg, Norway, Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Portugal

UK based mobile money company Mi-Pay is providing the system to Zain, and will facilitate settlement and reconciliation merchant acquisition and system monitoring and reporting.

Further rollouts of the service to Uganda, Tanzania and other countries have been planned over the coming months.

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