FBC finally launches Mobile Moola. Announces MasterCard Acquirer status

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Winky DIn September last year, we posted that FBC had introduced a new mobile banking service called Mobile Moola. They had and hadn’t. The advertising for the product died down and a visit to the bank’s head office in Harare to find out more about it only yielded that they weren’t ready to start talking about it. So we were happy this week to see the Mobile Moola brand come to life again when we saw an invitation to a launch event in our email.

Mobile Moola was finally launched at an event held in Harare last night. The bank also announced at the event their new MasterCard Acquirer status. As a MasterCard Acquirer FBC can now screen and accepts merchants into its bankcard program, process transactions, and complete financial settlement for them. In short local customers will be able to use the FBC MasterCard in Zimbabwe and international visitors will be able to withdraw money at FBC ATMs and transact at FBC POS machines country wide. It’s something that’s already available from other banks like Barclays locally but definitely still a big deal.

Back to Mobile Moola. The service has one key difference from what we saw back in September, and this could actually be what delayed the launch. Unlike the other ZimSwitch Mobile products introduced by the other banks last year, Mobile Moola is network neutral. Customers on any (GSM for now) mobile network can sign up for the service. You will remember that to open a CABS Textacash account last year, they’d give you a Telecel SIM card along with the textacash card, which was just, well, kind of inconvenient.

What we were not too happy with is that you can’t subscribe to the service without an FBC account. That is you have to open a traditional account with FBC and then get Mobile Moola as some kind of value added service. This makes Mobile Moola a strictly mobile banking product as opposed to a mobile money product that EcoCash and OneWallet are.

Requiring people to walk to and into a physical bank to open accounts (and be asked to produce proof of residence and your great grandmother’s certified ID photocopy) will not extend FBC’s reach to the much talked about unbanked and under-banked members of the economy. But maybe FBC’s objectives have nothing to do with financial inclusion. Who knows?

In terms of the Mobile Moola cost of transacting, the FBC officials didn’t disclose anything official but the marketing people we asked told us that all transactions, except for those originating from the Econet network, will be free for a certain period after launch. According to them, Econet subscribers will pay US 7 cents for each transaction.

On money transfer it basically works like the other ZimSwitch Mobile products on the market. You can transfer cash to any person that has a mobile phone regardless of the network they’re on. You can also do the traditional banking transactions like the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) all from the mobile phone. The banking itself can all work from the mobile phone but the service comes with a Mobile Moola card, apparently to cater for individuals stuck in the past who insist on carrying cards around in their wallets.

Business executives who spoke at the event include the FBC Managing Director, Webster Rusere, Econet executive Isaiah Nyangari, Telecel executive Natasha Mzungu and Emmanuel Fundira the Group Chief Executive at Astoc Leisure Group.

The occasion was also graced by the FBC MasterCard brand ambassador Oliver Mtukudzi. Local Reggae artiste Winky D (picture above) also performed a Mobile Moola song at the event, which was quite a pleasant surprise.

You can view other photos we took at the event on our Facebook Page here.

Image credit: Givemore Chijongwe
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  • Elora

    The majority of people own Econet lines, why charge us 7 cents…

  • James Ritala

    think for any mobile banking solution to be successful there is need
    for a high level of abstraction. We don’t need to know which bank they
    are settling with. We don’t need to know which Telecomms provider they
    are riding on.

    We just need to know the product name..eg. Mobile Moola. What they need
    to is to make sue that from any line of my choice I can register myself,
    and go to any street merchant or a shop per say to credit/debit my
    mobile account. My buddie who receives transfers from me, should also
    just be able to walk into Edgars, per say, and cash his money.

    But as long as we hear of the bank names, and/or telecomms providers to
    us, it’s just another way for these insititions to increase their
    customer base. And we, Zimbabweans, don’t want to be associated with any
    bank. The only reason I have an account is so my salary can be
    deposited at the end of the month.

  • Props

    Congrats FBC…I’ve been using their FBC prepaid card for the past 3 months and its worked a charm!…Everytime I top up the card the money is reflected almost immediately and online transaction on various websites are a breeze! So I have complete faith in this new Moola service. I know I probably sound like an advert but I’m just giving credit where its due…My only problem with them is that they need to open a branch for those people that don’t like driving into town like in places such as Sam Levey’s village or even Aurendale village. To tell the truth I was considering the Kingdom bank “pre-paid” visa card (coz they have a branch at the village) until I got there and got told they were still months away from launching the platform despite some advertising in the paper a while back!

  • http://twitter.com/tongai2010 Tongai Tanhara

    You have answered yourself…. “the majority of people own Econet lines”
    so why would any profit-making business charge an above market rate??
    Duh….. Its a numbers game and Econet is a monopoly!

  • Fan

    I have had both the Mobile Moola and MasterCard accounts for the better part of this year, the MasterCard works like a charm, have even used it in Europe and for online transactions, I was impressed. As for the Mobile Moola, I have just used it as an ordinary ATM card, cant say much

  • http://twitter.com/ihatehandles Sam Takunda

    Thumbs up on the prepaid Mastercard. Instant and $10 to open it and you’ll be transacting a few hours after if not sooner.

  • mahluli jamela

    fbc is the best bank try it for a good banking experiance