Ericsson, Millicom partner on Tigo Cash for West Africa

Ericsson has announced its Wallet Platform has been deployed by Millicom-owned Tigo Senegal to offer financial services to customers across West Africa. Tigo Cash mobile services allow subscribers to make payments, store, transfer and withdraw money using a mobile device, even if the user doesn’t have access to traditional banking services.

According to Tigo, the solution helps creating customer loyalty in a market where mobile financial services are increasing in popularity among customers.

“Mobile financial services are highly important to our subscribers and to drive continued success, it was important for us to speed up an easy to use, secure and reliable offering to market,” Millicom (Tigo) Senegal Managing Director, Diego Camberos said. “Ericsson has been an important partner for us in launching Tigo Cash to our entire subscriber base, ensuring that we’re able to scale to meet the high demand we anticipate as sign-ups continue to increase.”

“Ericsson is helping Tigo and its partners make mobile money for the unbanked and underserved a reality in West Africa,” Ericsson VP, Head of M-Commerce Peter Heuman said.

The Ericsson Wallet Platform is part of the vendor’s m-commerce portfolio targeted at mobile operators and financial service providers. The infrastructure vendor said it is focused on forming a more flexible and transparent financial landscape, aiming to make it easier for operators, banks and other service providers to create and provide access to financial services via mobile.

“Beyond this important deployment, we continue to work with operators and financial institutions globally to support the fast rollout of mobile financial services that transform how local businesses interact with customers, and provide a safer way to store, send and receive money.”

Mobile money services are widely used in Africa, and demand is growing. Other operators such as MTN and Orange are also offering such services on the continent. In its quarter three results last month, Orange reported its money services, whose primary market is Africa, grew by 53% in the first half of 2014 compared to the same period last year.

Meanwhile, Vodacom has encouraged employers to consider paying staff salaries via its mobile transaction platform m-pesa. The African telco claimed m-pesa offers a low-cost and simple way to make payments to all employees, including those who don’t have a bank account.

The system also enables employees to hold money on their m-pesa account, and they can have a Visa card associated to it, allowing cash withdrawals at any ATMs, as well as point-of-sale debit payments.

“Previously, we had a lot of problems transferring to bank accounts and also took a bit of a risk when making cash payments,” General Manager of Future Force Fields Solutions Tracy Lipworth said. “By moving to Vodacom m-pesa, our staff get paid via their mobile phones. They also have debit cards so they can access their funds at various retail outlets and automatic teller machines throughout South Africa.”

“Not everyone has a bank account, and this certainly isn’t a unique challenge facing Future Force Fields Solutions. We’ve found that m-pesa is a simple and extremely user friendly way for us to pay all staff regardless of their circumstances, and I’ve got to believe that it would work well for other companies facing similar issues.

“I definitely see this as an exciting development for employers and their permanent or part-time staff. It has huge potential in industries like agriculture, which have a high percentage of seasonal workers, and also at the lower end of the general income market,” she said.

First launched in Kenya, m-pesa is currently also available in Tanzania and Mozambique. Vodacom claimed existing customers are keen to see it introduced in more countries to make cross-border transactions easier.

“The m-pesa platform provides a seamless, low cost and real time disbursement system for salaries, loans and grants that is low risk and easy to audit,” Managing Executive for m-commerce at Vodacom Herman Singh said. “It’s as close to cash that you can get, without being exposed to the risks associated with its handling in South Africa.”

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