It is not very often you have an interview where you could become best friends with the company boss. But this is what happened when I met Hannes van Rensburg the CEO of Fundamo. He is South African and we both share an interesting history, family background and love for Africa.
But anyway – I am not an expert on mobile payments or mobile banking so I took the opportunity when I met Hannes to do a bit of learning.
The first question I asked him – is how are you different to M-Pesa?
He laughed and said that it was great the way in which M-Pesa and made it into the headlines. Vodafone had done a great job with the marketing of the service – but the service was flawed in that it was tied only to Vodafone.
I asked him to explain.
He said that the movement of money by mobile was more than just a payment mechanism. It was a life line.
I grumbled how the mobile banking community was miles behind and even recently I was refused a bank account in Ireland!
He smiled and pulled out a plastic credit card from his pocket branded by mobile operator MTN. He said that with MTN Fundamo had managed to revolutionise the way in which people bank. He said it was easier to get a bank account with MTN on mobile than anywhere else.
I looked confused and asked how it worked?
Basically, all you need to get an MTN bank account is an MTN phone and a passport or identity card.
When you get the bank account you get a credit card that only works with the phone and never alone (great security measure). There is a PIN as well as the card that makes it extra secure but payments can be made and also saving schemes can be started.
So if I wanted to put away money each month – I could using my mobile bank.
Hannes went on that Fundamo is a service for all brands, operators and companies. It was not its own brand but it helped nearly 100 million users get mobile banking in Africa.
I have to say I love the fact that payments from third parties can also be made into this bank account and really it is a flexible solution in your pocket.
I am going to have to put mobile banking and payment on the GoMo News radar – great innovation going on in Africa that is really worth noting!