Category Archives: Mobile Money Transfers

Lydia, A Fee-Free Money Transfer App For France

By Mohammed Waseem

In my previous article, I wrote about Venmo, a mobile payments app from PayPal, which is available only in the US. France has a similar app and it is called Lydia; which works on similar lines with Venmo and is also fee-free, even while using a credit card to send money, unlike the latter which charges 3% fee for using credit cards.

Lydia aims to facilitate easy exchange of money between people and have partnered with Payline and SFPMEI in order to offer the best service. The app also has the mobile wallet feature which stores money in the account which can be transferred to a bank account overnight. Users can send money to anyone in France using debit cards and credit cards and can send money to friends who use the app.

Lydia AppLydia merges the credit and debit cards and the mobile, such that users can pay from phone instead of using the cards, as the cards are linked to Lydia. When the user chooses a card and makes a payment, the card is debited and money is transferred immediately, which makes it similar to the cards in the way they function. After the completion of each transaction, a confirmation message or a receipt is sent to the user’s email address. All receipts can also be accessed from the Lydia app.

Lyida can be used to pay, even without internet connection. However, in order to see the receipts, one has to have an internet connection. When a user sends money using Lydia, a QR code is generated, which has to be sent by SMS or email to the recipient by providing their mobile number or email. The recipient has 7 days to accept the payment and claim it, which can be done by scanning the QR code. Users can also request for payments through a text message.

When Lydia is free for users, how does it make money? Well, they have another product which is meant for businesses, regardless of their size; it is called Lydia Pro, and it is not free. It allows retailers to accept payments using the Lydia app. They are in turn charge 0.3% per transaction and a monthly plan starts at €4.90. Instead of charging higher fee and using the revenue on marketing campaigns to attract users, they chose to make the retailers their indirect promoters by charging lesser fee, thus attracting the retailers.

They presently have over 20000 users and have over 1000 retail customers, many of which process over 1000 transactions per month. Lydia is currently offered only in France, but they may expand internationally as they do not face technological or regulatory issues. The app is available on Windows Phone, iOS and Android.

Venmo, The New Way to Send Money

By Mohammed Waseem

We all know PayPal as a successful money transfer service, but do we know that they have an interesting mobile payments service? They have a mobile app of their own but its not about that; they have bought the mobile transfer app Venmo, which enables users to transfer money to their friends and family. They were previously acquired by Braintree for $26.2 million, and this time, PayPal acquired Braintree for $800 million.

PayPal is owned by eBay, which acquired the former in 2002. With all these acquisitions, eBay aims at accelerating its mobile payments revenue. In 2012, PayPal processed $14 billion in mobile payments.

Venmo appVenmo is an interesting app, which is fast, secure and reliable. Users can hold money in their Venmo account, which is their mobile wallet, or can pay using bank accounts or debit and credit cards. They aim to become as common as Visa, as far as payments are concerned, and as widely used as Facebook. In fact, a few people consider Venmo a combination of PayPal and Facebook. The app users are increasing at a rate of 15% every month. Venmo also offers solutions to business through the service called ‘Venmo Touch’. They charge businesses for each transaction.

Venmo allows users to exchange payments with their social circles via their smartphones. The app links the users’ Facebook friends and email contacts to their bank accounts for the purpose of transfers. Interestingly, friends who the users have opted to “trust” can automatically withdraw funds from their accounts. It also has an option to share expense details, where, expenses among friends can be viewed, if the users do not choose to set their expense activity to privet.

Users can send money via phone (i.e. text message), email or Facebook. Another interesting feature of the app is Venmo Nearby, which allows users to send money to those they are not friends with. This feature lets the users search for nearby Venmo users and send money to them. It uses Bluetooth and WiFi to search for users. This feature is available to iOS users and not yet to Android and Blackberry users.

Venmo payments can be cashed out into bank accounts overnight, but if the users choose not to cash out, the funds get accumulated in the mobile wallet – Venmo account. Most users can transfer up to $3000 every week. All transfers are free of charge, except when credit cards are used, in which case, 3% fee is applicable. Recipients are not charged any fee for receiving the money. The service is currently available, only in the US.

Venmo owners predict that people won’t be swiping cards in 2017, as mobile payments are projected to cross $90 billion. There are other apps like Google Wallet and PayPal itself, but they charge a fee, which puts them behind Venmo in competition.

Send Money to Mobile Phones as Top-Up Credit

By Mohammed Waseem

Sending money to mobile phones is among the latest technologies being adopted all over the world. This usually happens in two ways and money can be transferred to any part of the world in seconds. The first way if transfer to mobile wallets and the second is transfer directly as prepaid credit. This article discusses a service which enables users to transfer money to mobile phones in over 100 countries.

The service is called ezetop, which is headquartered in Miami, Ireland and has regional offices in the USA, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Apart from sending money, the company also offers credit for cheap international calls. The services are available through ezetop website, few white label websites and a range of smartphone apps. International call facility is currently available only from the USA.

ezetop topupUsers can instantly top-up any number in the supported countries, either online with Master Card and Visa cards or from any of the over 450,000 retail locations across 20 countries. Here is the list of countries supported. The user chooses how much to send and is informed how much the recipient receives. They charge a fee for every transfer and an additional charge for an SMS message, which is optional. Users can also add numbers to their ezetop contact list for ease.

In order to be able to send top-up, user has to register for an account and add a card to the account. Other than this, top-up can be sent from any of the supported retail locations.

Ezetop makes money from the fee they charge. The exchange rate they offer seems much better than what is prevailing in the market with any service, but that gets covered up with the fee charged.

Ezetop website is the most visited website for international money transfers as mobile top-up and credit has reached over 2.4 billion phones worldwide. With this service, mobile operators around the world reach new global customers and make huge revenues. Ezetop currently has partnered with over 213 mobile phone operators to deliver their service and looks to expand in the near future. An example of their efforts is their recent partnership with a Saudi Arabian bank, Al Rajhi Bank which would reach millions of customers across the country with over 27000 point of sales, 3300 ATMs and 500 branches. This will be a huge success as the country has over 7 million expatriates working there, with families in their home countries.

M-Pesa, The Mobile Payments Pioneer

By Mohammed Waseem

People generally expect technologies to develop in developed nations. But it was proved the otherwise, when the revolutionary mobile wallet technology was pioneered by an African nation – Kenya. Without any doubt, it is one of the most successful technologies which would define mode of payment and money transfer in the near future. Companies in developed nations have already begun adopting this technology and have launched mobile wallets. In fact, even companies in many developing nations have piloted it.

The service was first launched by Kenyan mobile operator Safaricom, which has 75% of the market share in Kenya. 80% of their customers already use mobile wallet service, which is called M-Pesa. Safaricom saw a demand and supply gap in the country’s banking system and realized they could fill this gap by giving access to accounts to those people who had no access to banks.

Mobile WalletsAnother reason for them to launch this service was the need of the Kenyans to transfer money to other parts of the country, which previously happened either by a person himself/herself travelling in order to give money to their family or friends or by sending it through a trusted bus driver. With M-Pesa, users can send money to even the most remote parts of the country in seconds.

M-Pesa is currently the most developed mobile payment system in the world. 43% of Kenya’s GDP reportedly flows through M-Pesa. Users can withdraw and deposit money on their mobile wallet with this service at any M-Pesa agent location across the country, they can transfer money to M-Pesa users as well as non-users, they can pay bills and purchase airtime, they can transfer money to bank accounts and they can also pay the grocers for grocery.

Initially launched in Kenya, M-Pesa later expanded to Tanzania and Afghanistan in 2008, South Africa in 2010 and India in 2013. Tanzania has approximately 5 million subscribers to M-Pesa. In Afghanistan, M-Pesa was initially used to pay policemen’s salary, now it has expanded to include limited merchant payments, money transfers, loan disbursements and payments. Growth of M-Pesa has been slow in South Africa and India but they are working on repositioning the brand and are trying different ways to promote the product.

Safaricom recently launched a service called M-Shwari, which is a paperless banking service offered through M-Pesa. Users can open bank accounts, manage the bank account, save money and access microfinance right from their mobile device.

Money Transfer From UK to Nigeria with TransferBee

By Mohammed Waseem

Mobile social networking app, Eskimi has over 13 million users worldwide. They have apps for smartphones as well as feature phones, while their focus is on the latter customer base. They have significant position in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Eskimi partners with significant players in other segments of the industry to provide services to their customers. Other companies piggyback on Eskimi’s existing customer base to launch new services in order to get greater adoption rate and usage. They recently partnered with iROKO to launch Eskimi Music service.

Money transfer from UK to NigeriaSimilarly, they have partnered with UK-based TransferBee for money transfers from UK to Nigeria. With a customer base of over 7 million in Nigeria, this service is expected to be successful. They have reported that each day, over 2000 mobile money customers join their service, which has provided them a huge platform for more deals, more partnerships with money transfer services from other countries. They also use their platform well for marketing purposes.

Money transferred via TransferBee is delivered to mobile wallets in Nigeria. The sender has to enter the amount to be transferred, which cannot exceed 850 GBP, enter the mobile number of the recipient, and then choose the method of payment, which should be ‘bank account’ in this case. After the transfer is initiated, the money is delivered to the recipient within the next 24 hours.

The interesting part of this service is that the recipient need not be preregistered for a mobile wallet in Nigeria; a mobile wallet is automatically created for the recipient, for transfer of the funds. This money can either be used from the wallets for making payments or can be cashed out at any of the thousands of agents across Nigeria.

For using this service, the user must be over 18 years of age and must be a resident of the European Union and all transfers are initiated from UK bank accounts. The user is also expected to provide identification documents before using this service.

The price for each transfer is fixed at 4.5 GBP and TransferBee claims that this is the cheapest price in the market. When I checked Western Union, they charged 12.50 GBP for transferring 850 GBP to Nigeria and the exchange rate was 257.47 NGN per GBP compared to 270 NGN offered by TransferBee. Of course, for amounts lesser than 100 GBP, their transfer fee is 2.90 GBP, which is lesser than what is charged by TransferBee. MoneyGram charges 4.9 GBP for transferring 100 GBP and 25.99 GBP for transferring 850 GBP, with an exchange rate of 258.73 NGN per GBP.

They are already gaining popularity and many people are switching to this service due to the low cost and high exchange rate. Both TransferBee as well as Eskimi have great partnership opportunities for money transfers in different parts of the world.

Barclays Bank Improvises on Their App: Pingit

By Mohammed Waseem

As banks adopt mobile banking apps, money transfer has been the new addition. Barclays bank of the UK launched an app called Pingit, which can now be used for making money transfers in the UK and to select qualifying countries.

Since launch in 2012, only the Barclays current account holders of age 18 and above were able to use this app for sending and receiving money. But as global banks are opening up to the customers, Barclays decided to make this service available to all their customers aged over 16, who have a current account. Not only that, they went a step ahead in making it available even for non-customers. So any individual who has a current account at any UK bank can use this app and make payments. This app is also available for UK small businesses, who bank with Barclays. There is also an option to receive payments on the Barclays website, which is open to all app users and also to UK small businesses who bank elsewhere and Barclays’ corporate customers.

Barclays PingitThe app is available for Android, iOS and Blackberry OS. However, money transfer is associated with the phone number rather than the app installed on that phone. This means that all phones will be eligible to receive payments and not just smartphones with Pingit installed. In this case, the recipient has to register online for collecting the payment.

Pingit works on Faster Payment Scheme and all transfers happen instantly, even between Barclays and non-Barclays customers. All transfers are free of charge and the daily limit for sending is £1,500, while for receiving it is £5,000 and the minimum sending amount is £1. However, for joint accounts as well as for payment being made to businesses different limits apply. Payments can also be made internationally to select qualifying countries at no extra charge, but the recipient in other countries must be pre-registered for an appropriate Barclays service.

When the payment has been made, if the recipient is not a Pingit user, they are asked to register for it online or in the app within 24 hours of 5 days, as the sender chooses. For certain businesses, payments can also be made using short codes and QR codes.

Businesses can receive money from customers at no monthly charge. All they need is a mobile phone and a phone number. The app also supports making refunds and generating daily reports.

Like many other banks, they have introduced many good features in this app, but what makes it stand out is that it has no extra charge.

Allied Irish Bank Launches Me2U App For Money Transfers

By Mohammed Waseem

Allied Irish Bank has launched a mobile app called Me2U in association with visa, which lets their customers transfer money to a recipient’s euro personal visa card using the recipient’s mobile number. The app is available for download on Apple Store or Google Play Store. Me2U has been introduced as a part of AIB internet and phone banking service.

As mobile wallets are growing, banks are adopting the new technology to keep up with customer demands, keep up with the competition and go a step ahead.

Allied Irish BankFor receiving money from a Me2U app, the recipient does not need to have an account with Allied Irish Bank, but must have a euro personal visa card. The sender, however, has to be an AIB customer. All the sender has to do is login to the Me2U app and select the recipient’s mobile number for his/her contact list, enter the amount and hit send They can also send money using the recipient’s visa card number. The money is then transferred from the sender’s AIB personal visa card to the recipient’s card. The maximum amount allowed daily is €300 and this money can be sent to up to 5 recipients per day per card.

Up to 3 cards can be registered on the Me2U app for money transfer. A user is also required to have a valid email address of a phone number for using the app.

Money transferred from Me2U app is delivered within 30 minutes. However, if the recipient’s card is issued by other than AIB, it may take up to 1 business day for the funds to be received by the institution. In this case, when the transfer is initiated, a text message is sent to the sender’s phone, which has a link to visa collection website. After entering the visa card number, a claim code is generated, which has to be shared with the recipient, who can collect the payment within 7 days, after which, they payment is cancelled. The sender’s account is not debited, until the recipient collects the money.

When sending and receiving money with an AID Debit card, the fee has been waived until 28th November 2014 as the introductory offer; standard charges will be applicable after this period. No fee is charged for AIB credit card Me2U transactions. When money is sent to recipients having cards from another financial institution, they are charged a fee based on the standards of their institution.

The service is new and needs further improvements. More banks will surely try this soon in order to keep up with the technology and for better convenience of their customers.

Send Prepaid Mobile Credit to Friends Abroad

By Mohammed Waseem

How do we top up our phones? We use top up cards, do it online, and so on. In this article, I will talk about a new way to send prepaid phone credit to your family and friends.

I think most of us are aware of Rebtel, the VoIP app for Android and iOS. Their business was VoIP, but they decided to expand it and venture into credit transfer. They have launched an app called Sendly, which can be used for transferring credit to over 50 countries. This credit can be used to top up phones, in order to use it for calls, texts and data.

Top up phones with Sendly

Rebtel has over 20 million users all around the world and is one of the most popular VoIP apps. They have relationship with over 60 global mobile operators who charge them a nominal fee for converting the transfers into mobile credit. They in turn charge the customers 12% of the transfer value. This amount is debited to the credit card which has been connected to the app.

All the users need to do is download the Sendly app into their phone or tablet, add the recipient, choose the amount and send money.  The recipient gets a receipt notification and then this amount can be converted into mobile credit and used as they like. This service is available in over 50 countries since launch and Rebtel claims that new counties will be added soon. So, if the “Top Up” icon does not show up next to a friend’s number on your phone, it is because Sendly does not support their country operator yet.

Rebtel launched in 2006 and has been very popular since then. Sendly is a good way to retain customers and even attract new ones. People who use Rebtel are generally those who have travelled away abroad for work, study, etc. They use the app to speak to their family and friends. Sendly would help them connect better with their loved ones. So Sendly found it easy to be accepted by the existing users of Rebtel. New users would join to make use of this service and this would also encourage them to use Rebtel for making calls back home.

Rebtel sees huge potential for this technology and is looking at additional opportunities to venture into, this year.

Mobile money plays its part in charity

By Mohammed Waseem

Mobile money is the new trend in money transfer. Traditionally, people carried coins for making payments, then came the bills and then the plastic money which we call credit/debit cards. All of this may now be replaced with mobile money.

Though the usage of mobile money is quite low, but it is growing and being adopted all over the World. In this article, I will talk about charity done with mobile money.

Mobile Charity

Funds are usually raised for supporting poverty stricken fragments of the underdeveloped nations, disaster stricken lands, or for some other social causes. This happens through wire transfers, check or DD payments, cash payments through representatives, etc. With the introduction of Mobile Money, another medium was added to this list and this is quite convenient. This medium is useful because it saves costs and gives more money per dollar. Additionally, mobile money can reach extremely remote areas where there are no distribution channels.

Thomson Reuters Foundation reports the charity fund raising initiative of mobile phone operator Tigo and charity organization, Oxfam International in Guatemala to transfer money quickly and safely to provide for families affected by drought and malnutrition. The families were given a sim card and money was sent to their phones. It is reported that Oxfam has so far given $282,000 to 1700 families using mobile phones.

The recent typhoon of Philippines is another disaster which attracted fund raisers’ attention, where over 3000 died and thousands were left homeless. P2P (Person to Person) service provider Remitly, which specializes in transferring money to Philippines using mobile phones, did its best to raise funds to help. They raised money from all over the world and transferred the money to Philippines Red Cross for helping the homeless families.

The world pioneer of mobile money – Kenya – is also in the list. NGO named GiveDirectly launched a campaign to help raise funds to help poverty stricken families in Kenya and help in reaching remote areas with mobile transfers. Of course, they used the leading mobile transfer service M-Pesa. So, the recipient has to either visit a local M-Pesa agent to receive cash or use money from the mobile for making purchases. Poverty-Action.org reports that residents in Rarieda area in Kenya generally live on $1 a day and most of them do not have food in their homes for the next day.

Similarly, funds amounting to $190,000 were also raised in the US by the American Red Cross, in collaboration with Wireless Foundation after the hurricanes, where nearly 38000 people had contributed.

This is good use of the technology and it has certainly made a difference, as I have discussed in the above examples.

Interesting Facts about Mobile Money Transfers

By Renee D. for SafeCashTransfer.com

The number of people using mobile devices to handle financial business is staggering. Looking at checking account balances, moving money from savings to checking, and completing money transfers on a local, national, or international level have all become quite common. Thanks to technological advancements, almost anything is possible with a mobile device and good service provider.

With this being a fast growing trend, we wanted to take the opportunity to provide a few interesting facts that people may not be aware of. After reading this, anyone who has not yet moved to the next level of handling financial issues via phone might reconsider this as a viable option. Without doubt, the benefits of using a phone for transfers are quite impressive. These benefits include convenience, privacy, ease to use, fast service, and affordability.

Understanding the Basics

Mobile money transfers.
Mobile money transfers.

Cell phones have become such an important part of life that almost everyone owns at least one. According to the International Telecommunications Union, more than 5.3 billion mobile phone subscriptions exist but even more shocking is that this number is expected to increase significantly over the next five to ten years. Although communication is the primary reason people use mobile phones, technology has made it possible to accomplish many things never before thought possible.

Next to communication, mobile money transfers and remittances are also highly valued. Rather than process a payment through a bank or credit union, transfers can be made to an eCommerce merchant almost anywhere in the world with a credit or debit card, cell phone, and reputable transfer services company.

If wanted, money transfers could also be used to pay creditors, book travel arrangements, and much more. In addition to money being transferred for business purposes, this is a great service for individuals, who need to send money to family members or friends. Along with sending money, transfer services also make it possible for money to be received. Without questions, this already important service has a bright future.

Interesting Facts

Because this is an ever-changing financial service and due to ongoing advancements in mobile device technology, new information will always be available to share. However, we wanted to provide some interesting facts pertaining to mobile money transfers as they relate today.

o Although this type of service provides people with a convenient way to send money, it has also been proven beneficial to both financial and communication sectors in a variety of ways. For instances, money transfers completed using a cell phone along with “branchless banking” services help decrease the cost of remittances, increase savings potential, and generate an entirely new revenue stream for financial institutions but also telecommunication companies.

o Social and cultural practices play a key role in profitability potential associated with money transfers via cell phone

o Of all foreign countries, Kenya has achieved the greatest success, having secured over seven million subscribers since the rollout of Safaricom in 2007.

o In most cases, the offer of money transfer services via phone is intended to retain existing customers rather than attract new ones. Because no bank account is required for this particular service, the goal of financial institutions is to promote additional financial services to current customers. Companies through which mobile money transfers are completed hope to keep customers who use this and other financial services opposed to losing them to the competition.

o The most recent world financial crisis made officials aware that regulations were critical for protecting consumers but that there was also the need to be flexible enough for innovation and technology to continue pushing forward

o Although efficiency is a primary concern of companies through which money transfers are processed, privacy and security remain top concerns. Because of this, significant money and time have been invested into developing and implementing technology to prevent both cybercrime and money laundering risks.

o Even though there are fees associated with transferring money, these are significantly lower than fees associated with other payment methods

o Amazon and eBay account for the majority of purchases made using a cell phone for payment

o One specific area that experts predict will experience some of the fastest growth over the next several years is travel. Some people have cut back on travel due to fear of terroristic acts but this industry has started to see tremendous growth.

o By the end of 2012, approximately 215 million mobile device users will spend some $175 billion worldwide, more than a 60% increase over numbers from the prior year. However, within the next five years, these numbers are expected to climb to 448 million payment users and $617 billion, respectively.

o The somewhat low NFC transactions will not see growth for several years and SMS will remain the driving force behind mobile money transfers in developing countries. However, for North American and European countries, most money transfers will be made through Mobile Web.

o Digital type merchandise is purchased most often using credit and debit cards for mobile money transfers