MiMoney – Credit where it’s due

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In South Africa, the credit for the development of the certain new services on the mobile platform goes to ordinary people in the lower income brackets who have led the way by adopting, even instigating new ideas to turn the cellphone into a powerful transacting tool.
Compared to a low eight percent fixed internet penetration, South Africa has cellular penetration of a 114 percent. It is clear from the statistics that South Africans have leapfrogged fixed-line telephony and internet in favor of mobile telephony and have called for an increasing array of data services to be delivered to this platform.
This is patently true when it comes to banking and transacting using the mobile phone. To the surprise of the airtime providers, the African continent has witnessed the use of multinational pre-loaded airtime (most notably MTN airtime vouchers) as a type of cross-border grassroots currency, swapped and bartered via sms, and a way to send “œmoney“ quickly back to family in other African countries. The informal airtime-economy is an excellent example of the organic development of technology by ordinary people to meet their transactional needs in contexts where credit cards and banking facilities are lacking.
Meet MiMoney
mimoney works essentially like preloaded airtime, or, in other words, converts cash into an electronic currency that can be used to make purchases in a secure and controllable manner. The currency is free to buy, free to get and free to keep, so a R100 note converts into exactly R100 mimoney to be used online, with no leakage or transaction fees incurred.
Standard Bank‘s mimoney developers, noted the popularity of the airtime bartering model in rural African contexts, and has developed the model into a more formalized, virtual cash mechanism, while removing the hefty taxes included in airtime. Instead of swapping airtime, users of mimoney can now swap vouchers that are loaded and sent in a similar way to airtime.
mimoney is a world-first, proudly South African innovation that gives credit card-less individuals the ability to make purchases online. While this could translate into a significant boost for the local internet economy, it also affects the economy at large, as payment becomes easier, faster and safer, and more people are equipped with electronic payment options and electronic ways of getting paid.
The power to transact online
In this context, mimoney is set to launch the youth and credit-cardless South Africans into the online economy with a simple way to convert hard cash into virtual cash to be stored on their cellphones. This can be used to make purchases online, over the phone or on the mobile web.
The youth market has the disposable income (estimated at R80 billion rand last year) to be influential online consumers, but they have been restricted by a lack of access to credit cards and other online payment mechanisms.
The developers of mimoney took into account the need for a secure and simple electronic payment mechanism that would empower the youth and South Africa‘s vast informal cash economy with the ability to transact online. The challenge was not just to serve the needs of the wealthy, but also to make a solution that works for the average South African.
Small online business gets paid
mimoney also plans to shortly equip micro-businesses and entrepreneurs with the ability to receive electronic payment from customers via mimoney. The application process for mimoney merchants is far simpler and less stringent than qualifying for a credit card merchant account, empowering smaller initiatives and online businesses with the convenience and efficiency of getting paid remotely.
What sets mimoney apart is that it is not simply a wallet, like PayPal, but rather a genuine electronic currency that can be utilised to make purchases at an increasing number of online and even offline retailers.