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It seems the mobile money space in Africa just became a little bit more crowded. MTN has partnered with retail chain Pick ‘n Pay to offer South African consumers a new mobile bank called Tyme Capital.
Tyme (which stands for ‘take your money everywhere’) is not just a mobile wallet though — it’s a full-scale mobile-only bank that offers most of the services you’d expect from any other banking service. It offers users the ability to send, receive, deposit and withdraw money, as well as make payments and purchase pre-paid electricity and airtime. According to Business Day, customers can withdraw and deposit cash till points at any one of Pick ‘n Pay’s hundreds of stores across the country, as well as from Boxer stores. It will allow instant money transfers to any local cellphone number, and for customers to pay for their shopping using their phones and receive money via EFT from other banks.
There are no monthly charges or a minimum balance requirement (although some transactions do require a small fee). Essentially, all that is needed to register for the service for South Africans over the age of 16 is an ID book and a cellphone. They don’t need to visit a store to open an account though — they can create it themselves from their cellphone in under 3 minutes. While Tyme works just like a traditional bank account, there are certain limitations — for example, an account holder’s maximum balance can’t exceed R25 000 (US$2795) and a number of the transactions (like debit transactions, airtime purchases, withdrawals and debit orders) are limited to a R1 000 (US$111) daily cut-off point.
Tyme is similar in function to African mcommerce powerhouse M-pesa, which was launched in the country through a partnership with Vodacom and Nedbank, but has not seen the level of rapid take-up and widespread usage as it has in other countries like Kenya. Like M-pesa, Tyme will work via USSD, allowing anyone with even the most basic cell phone to register for an account and use the service.
The launch of the mobile bank has been rumoured since late last week, when the official website accidentally went live.
MTN was rumoured to have applied for a banking license a couple of months ago. When Memeburn contacted the company however it denied that it had done so.