BY EMEKA EJERE |
Those wanting to send money home to countries across Africa may have to do so more easily now than it used to be.
That, among other purposes, is what a brand new partnership pact between the leading pan-African bank, Ecobank Group and leading international money transfer service provider, Small World Financial Services (Small World) has come to serve, according to the two firms.
The agreement, which brings the strengths and assets of both Ecobank and Small World together to offer money transfer services to Africans in the diaspora, is an exciting development for both organisations.
While Small World can continue to grow its global customer base as well as its 250,000 pick-up locations, Ecobank, with its footprint across 33 African countries can further expand its remittance reach within African communities across Europe and other parts of the world.
Small World customers will be able to access the unparalleled Ecobank Africa – wide network in three ways: direct transfer to bank accounts, mobile wallet; and cash pick up at any Ecobank location.
A mobile wallet is simply a digital version of a physical wallet. It is an online space that allows the money sender and the beneficiary to store bank card and payments details securely. As the sender, it means one can send money directly to an account.
In other words, mobile wallets are a secure way of storing payment information – to access the holders’ data, someone would have to not only steal their smartphone but also know all their passcodes.
They are incredibly convenient, enabling people to make in-store purchases instantly, and are a great option for anyone who does not want, or is not able to, withdraw cash. Importantly, using a mobile wallet saves time that might otherwise be wasted travelling to pick-up locations or waiting in line to collect cash.
The collaboration is also expected to further enhance financial inclusion in Africa as Ecobank will make available the Ecobank Xpress Account (a mobile-based bank account developed for the unbanked and under-banked) for the recipients of remittances sent by Small World customers.
Ecobank has a larger African footprint than any other bank, spanning 33 countries with more than 50,000 locations across the continent via its agent sites. For Small World, this means the impact of this collaboration will be positive for its customers sending money home.
Nick Day, chief executive and founder of Small World, said: “We are delighted to be forging a partnership with Ecobank. It is a leading bank in Africa with over 50,000 locations in the region which means our global customers get access to even more ways to send money home to African countries.
Importantly, Ecobank shares our commitment in delivering great customer service alongside providing fast, affordable and reliable transfers.”
The Ecobank Group is continuously innovating and working with partners in order to provide best in class banking products, services and solutions to its current over 23 million customers.
Nana Araba Abban, head of Consumer banking at Ecobank Group, said: “We’re proud to offer seamless payments across our vast borderless network in Africa. At Ecobank, we value partnerships, such as this, that enable Africans in the diaspora to remit money affordably and conveniently. This provides a win-win partnership as Ecobank can offer banking services to Africans wherever they are on the globe.”
Ecobank shares Small World’s commitment of making financial services seamless, convenient, and interoperable across Africa.”
The partnership agreement is coming barely two months after Ecobank Nigeria assured its customers that it would put the necessary processes in place to ensure that beneficiaries of remittances can now receive their transfers in dollars or opt to have funds paid directly into their domiciliary accounts seamlessly. The bank was reacting to a recent announcement by the Central Bank Nigeria (CBN) directing the banks to make that happen.
Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan, had in a chat with the media in Lagos said Ecobank was taking steps to see the immediate implementation of the policy. He encouraged Nigerians in the diaspora and their loved ones here in Nigeria to take advantage of the policy by opening the Ecobank domiciliary account or reactivating their inactive domiciliary account with the bank.
“We are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that our customers instantly receive their transfers as cash (USD) or transfers into their domiciliary accounts. Our customers have the flexibility to choose the mode of receipt that suits them. It is strictly on their terms.” he said.
“Our proprietary money transfer platform, Rapidtransfer, available on the App Store and Play Store, makes it possible for Nigerians abroad to remit home instantly at very affordable charges.
“We have also just launched a new version, Rapidtransfer International, specifically for Nigerians living in Europe. The functionality of both apps is being enhanced to meet this new requirement.”
Ecobank is pursuing this objective through collaborating with Small World among other remittance partners like Western Union, MoneyGram and Ria.
Nigerian diaspora community makes significant contribution to the economy and Ecobank is committed to supporting them by providing advisory services, remittance solutions, investment options and financial planning. Little wonder the bank late last year held a Diaspora Summit with major stakeholders in commemoration of Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary.