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Kenyan Bank to introduce money transfer by cellphone in South Sudan

October 1, 2008 (JUBA) — The Kenyan Equity Bank, One of the world’s first cellphone-to-cellphone cash-transfer systems, intends to expand its activities to southern Sudan by the end of the year

The system, called M-PESA, allows customers to transfer cash via their mobile phone, through an agent or store which supplies the cash. To send cash, a customer has to buy E-money which is then loaded on to his account and then he can send to a recipient who receives a text message with a code telling him to go and collect money from an agent within his proximity.

Equity bank chief executive, James Mwangi, on Tuesday confirmed that the bank had already obtained approvals from the two industry regulators - the Central Bank of Kenya and the Central Bank of Southern Sudan.

The southern Sudan service would begin with six branches, said Mwangi.

The money transfer is a crucial issue in the southern Sudan. The Nile Commercial Bank, a southern Sudan government commercial bank, and some Somali transfer companies are the sole current agencies in the region.

In Kampala, MTN Uganda, is also preparing to launch the service but officials refuse to say when it would start operating.

Kenya banking industry complains from this transfer system which threats their system. Last July, the Safaricom MPesa service, one of the two cell operators offering this service, transferred KSh21bn with subscribers within the network transferring KSh6,8m amongst themselves.

(ST)