A commercial service allowing for smaller payments and money transfers over the mobile phone was today launched in Côte d'Ivoire. Other African countries may soon get the same service. The French telecom company Orange today announced the commercial launch of its service "Orange Money" in Côte d'Ivoire, the first country to benefit from this service within the Africa.
With the new service, Orange customers are said to have "access to an entire range of services making it possible to carry out day-to-day banking operations and transactions in total security," according to the company. These include depositing and withdrawing money from the Orange Money account up to CFAF 100,000 (around euro 150), transferring money from one person to another, buying call credit for up to CFAF 10,000, and paying bills.
The launch came after Orange entered into an alliance with the French banking group BNP Paribas, through its Côte d'Ivoire subsidiary BICICI. The bank is in charge of issuing and guaranteeing the electronic money, while Orange is responsible for the service's platform and marketing.
"In this way, Orange and BNP Paribas are helping accelerate the level of access to banking services in Côte d'Ivoire, an essential factor for the country's economic and social development," according to a statement issued by the telecom.
To subscribe to the new service, Ivorians do not need to have a bank account. The Orange Money account was said to be "activated free of charge and without any minimum deposit."
Orange Money was said to be built around a system that "guarantees transactions against the risk of theft or fraud and that is fully compliant with the regulations in force within the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU)." All transactions were said to be "guaranteed for both end customers and recipients."
For its release and marketing, Orange Money is drawing on rural and urban distribution networks available through Orange, BICICI and Belkofinance, which were to be extended over time.
Commenting on this launch, Marc Rennard, Orange's Executive Director for the African region, stated that: "By launching Orange Money today in Côte d'Ivoire, we are bringing several months of work to a close with a service that will make life easier for our customers by giving them the possibility to easily carry out bank transactions using their mobile, in total simplicity and total security."
Mr Rennard further indicated that the launch of his company's Orange Money service in Côte d'Ivoire would only be a first step to bring this mobile banking service to other African countries. "This event marks the start of the service's deployment in other Orange countries over the coming months," Mr Rennard said.
Also Amadou Kane, Head of the Africa Region for BNP Paribas, celebrated the launch today. "BNP Paribas is very proud to have been able to combine its know-how and image with those of Orange to design and launch an innovative means for transferring money in Côte d'Ivoire," he said.
"Through the launch of this service in Côte d'Ivoire, then in other countries, BNP Paribas is committed to supporting the gradual improvement of access to banking services for many low-income households that do not have access to traditional banking services today, in this way playing an active role in the economic development of the countries concerned," Mr Kane added.