Recently, Old Mutual Zimbabwe launched a fintech business, Old Mutual Digital Services. On the evening of 23 May 2023, this new business launched its flagship product and brand, O’mari (pronounced oow mari as in “o mari iyi sha – receive this money, my guy“).
What is O’mari?
O’mari is a mobile wallet, yes mobile as in mobile money. The wallet is accessible via mobile app, WhatsApp and USSD code *707#. Subscribers can send or receive money to and from each other, they can buy airtime, and pay bills. Stuff we have come to expect from mobile wallets.
So what is different about O’mari?
When we first heard of the launch we were like, “Hmm yet another wallet?” The concern is always how any new such service will distinguish itself and capture people’s attention. The O’mari team seems to have thought about this and they have built in some features that are not yet out there out of the gate.
Leveraging the insurance background of their parent, O’mari incorporates some micro-insurance services:
FoodCare: When one subscribes for this and pays premiums which are as low as US$0.90 per month their family will get monthly groceries for between one year and five years when the subscriber dies.
SchoolCare: This is similar to FoodCare except that when the subscriber dies their child or children will have their school fees or part of school fees paid by Old Mutual every term for between a year and five years. Premiums start at US$0.90 per month as well.
The above two products may attract people’s attention. I think we Zimbabweans are a bit morbid. We do try to sort out our affairs and plan for the taking care of our families when we kick it. The pricing seems accessible. Of course, we will want to see the fine print before we can make an opinion on whether this is a good deal or not.
HealthCare: This is a health benefit that comes as an add-on when you are subscribed to either of the above two products for at least four months and the benefits depend on how much you transact on the O’mari platform.
Other O’mari features
The platform has two wallets ZWL and USD. This is now an expected thing in Zim really. The ZWL wallet comes with a Zimswitch card and the USD wallet with a Visa card. You can pick up either card from any of the O’mari physical channel partners and then activate it on the O’mari digital channels. The team promises to add investments type stuff to the platform soon as well.
Most important thing for mobile money
Any mobile money service can only have a chance of success if it has a good network of agents where people can cash in and out. This is particularly true in Zim right now because mobile money has retrogressed to 2011 where it’s about the transmission of cash from one end of the country to the other above anything else.
O’mari is starting with a solid network for cash in and out. They have partnered with OK Zimbabwe, TM Pick n Pay, SPAR, N Richards and Metro Peech. Of course, Old Mutual offices and CABS branches add to that network. This gives the service a decent initial footprint, above 130 outlets on my count.
Will O’mari win?
It’s still too early to call this one. What they did well was to incorporate unique features into the service. If the market is interested in these, this gives them a chance. Old Mutual is also a deep-pocketed behemoth that could use brute force to push this. Generally with digital products, this is far from a guarantee; if the product sucks, people will not care and many a company has thrown money away only to delay the inevitable.
We will keep playing around with the service and we will be sharing more over the next few days and weeks.
See the launch of O’Mari in pictures here.