THE Central Bank has cleared local electronic payment systems company, Smartel Money Ltd (SM) to commence operations as a mobile money operator from the beginning of May this year.
The renewable one-year registration certificate issued by CBL governor Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane, is valid from 1 May 2019 to 30 April 2020.
Smartel Money or MyWalletTM is a financial technology (fintech) product that allows for payments and money transfers to be made through modern information technology platforms such as mobile phones.
Mobile money or electronic money is defined by the Mobile Money Guidelines issued by the CBL as payment instruments that contain monetary value that is paid in advance by the user to the money issuer.
The user of the mobile money can make payments for goods and services to agents who accept the mobile money as payment.
“This is to certify that Smartel Money Ltd, … has been licensed by me in terms of Section 12 of the Payments Systems Act No. 55 of 2014 (herein referred to as the Act),” Dr Matlanyane’s statement on the certificate reads.
“In terms of the Regulations 13 of the Payments Systems (Issuer of Electronic Payments Instruments) Regulations of 2017, this certificate shall remain in force a period of one year from the date of commencement of validity and it is renewable annually unless it is cancelled.”
The issuance of the certificate has been described as a breakthrough by (SM) managing director Nchai Nchai, who also indicated that they waited for too long for the clearance.
The company first applied for permission in August 2016 and had to pass stringent conditions before being given the green light by the apex bank, which also acts as the regulator of financial service providers.
“This is a breakthrough for us since Smartel Money is purely indigenousness in that it is the first ever company to be built by and owned wholly by Basotho.
“This now means that we can go ahead with the next step in the development of the company which is to train our mobile money sales agents, who are going to help us distribute the service around the country,” Mr Nchai told the Lesotho Times this week.
With the company planning to have up to 3000 agents around the country, the project is expected to significantly contribute towards job creation in the process.
“The purpose of MyWallet is to increase financial inclusion in Lesotho hence it caters for unbanked people and low income earners as it does business.
“MyWallet is now live but e-money and payment services shall be open to the general public by the first week of June 2019. Some businesses in Lesotho are already enjoying some advanced point of sales services which come at no cost but a small installation fee. Products and services shall be released in batches in the coming months.
“The public can visit the company’s website start a chat or follow local media on to on how to access this exciting new technology that is meant to simplify life.
Mr Nchai believes that their product has the capacity to be seen as the banking industry’s next major leap.
“Smartel money can be seen as a banking industry’s next major leap while on the other hand, others may see it as one product that may put the banking industry into obsolescence.
“However, in the plain sense Smartel Money plans to capitalise on the inflexible structures of the banking systems and thus become a banking parallel,” Mr Nchai said.
Asked how their services would differ from the existing mobile money services offered by mobile network service providers, Mr Nchai said their product does not rely on one specific service provider.
“Our service does not rely on any specific network service provider. Any subscriber of the two available network service providers can access our service.”
The company’s targeted customers include the banking individuals, insurance agents, retail grocery, retail clothing, retail cell phone services and utility services among others.
Its services include money transfers; value added services including airtime purchases; bill payments/utilities; electricity payments and savings and credit and enterprise resource planning system. It also offers checkout services; Smartel Money Point of sales system (sPOS); the Smartel Money Mobile point of sales systems (smPOS); security code tag/scanning; Smartel Money prepaid card; and the ticketing system.