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Mobile money transfer a must

THERE lies a huge and untapped potential in rural areas which is unreached by mobile money services.
The population in rural areas, though seemingly poor, is also in need of mobile services.
They may not be covered by the line of rail but as long as people make a living in such areas, they cannot be excluded from mobile money services.
To make it worse, some areas do not even offer postal services, which can be used for sending and receiving money, leaving the residents in a quandary.
It is, therefore, welcome news that the Bank of Zambia (BoZ) and the Zambia Information, Communication and Technology Authority, (ZICTA) have signed a memorandum of understanding to reach the unreached populace.
It is a wonder that while mobile phone services have reached people in rural areas, mobile money services still remain out of reach for them.
What then would we call development if the rural people do not have access to a more modern way of sending and receiving money?
Most rural areas do not have access to the Zambia Postal Services Corporation (Zampost), which has the oldest and most popular money transfer services in the name of Swift Cash.
People have to travel long distances, sometimes covering dozens of kilometres on foot to reach the nearest post office so that they can either send or receive money through electronic transfer.
In Samfya, for example, people living in chiefs Chitembo, Mwewa, Mulongwe and Mbulu’s chiefdoms have had to hike, walk, cycle or paddle to the boma to just access Swift Cash money transfer services at the post office.
But thank God Airtel Money has reached Lubwe, about 45 kilometres from the Boma.
This, has, however, not made any significant impact because hundreds of thousands of people still cannot access the service because they do not have cellular phones.
We have seen other players such as Zoona come on the stage but their reach is also marginal.
This is why we commend BoZ and ZICTA for coming up with this initiative.
The easier and faster it is for money to move from one part of the country to the other, the better for Zambia.
The advantage of mobile phone money transfer is that it is faster and less rigorous.
If, for example, the sender is in Namwala and the receiver is in Kaputa or Solwezi it will take the message only seconds to reach the other end.
All the customer needs is to fill in a simple form and mention the phone number of the person they want to receive the number.
When the provider confirms that the short text messaging (SMS) has reached the provider at the other end, the sender is told to inform the receiver that they have sent money and give the amount sent.
The receiver will go to the service provider or an agent and present their identity card and mention the amount of money sent.
After verifying that information the provider or their agent pays out the money.
The process lasts less than five minutes on both sides of the transaction, which means you can send the money from Livingstone to Nakonde and the receiver can claim it in about 10 minutes.
This will help reduce poverty because those who have money and want to help needy relatives and friends can do that in a short time.