Millicom, a Luxemburg-headquartered telecoms group with operations in Africa and Latin America, claimed a world first after launching a mobile money service in Tanzania which offers users the opportunity to automatically earn a return on their balance direct to their wallet without the need for a separate registration.
The service, called Tigo Wekeza (‘Tigo Invests’), will allow over 3.5 million Tigo Pesa users to benefit from quarterly interest payments based on the balance held in their account.
Millicom stresses that Tigo Pesa users will have the option to nominate a non-profit beneficiary in line with their personal cultural beliefs.
“This innovation reflects our commitment to develop mobile money into an even more attractive service and will extend financial inclusion further,” said Hans-Holger Albrecht (pictured), Millicom’s chief executive.
“It comes in a year when we have already pioneered cross-border mobile money transfers with automatic currency conversion as well as a unique interoperability arrangement with other operators in Africa.”
Earlier this month a one-time return to Tigo Pesa users based on their accrued balances was announced. The trustees of these funds were able to achieve an aggregate return of 9.2 per cent.
This and the new service has been authorised by the Bank of Tanzania, following the announcement of new policy by the central bank earlier this year.
In a separate announcement, Millicom said it had established a joint venture with Kalixa, an online payments firm, to develop a payments service provider to operate in Africa and Latin America, initially commencing in Colombia and Brazil later this year.
The joint venture will offer payment acceptance services for both businesses and consumers, including payment gateway and point of sale solutions for merchants as well as 1-click payment and eWallet provision for online customers.
The partnership will cover the end-to-end payment ecosystem and will offer multi-device and cross-platform services.
“Working with Kalixa will enable us to offer a complete digital payments service in markets where ecommerce is growing rapidly and where we already have a strong presence,” said Albrecht. “It is a great combination of our respective expertise.”
Millicom has 4.7 million mobile money customers in its six Tigo operations in Africa and 2.7 million in five countries in Latin America.