Money goes mobile

2013-11-17 14:00

The low-cost appeal of mobile money has picked up steadily over the past five years. There are now more mobile-money agents than bank branches in 28 nations. How does it work? Neesa Moodley-Isaacs finds out

Jabu Ndlovu used to travel home from the heart of Durban to the rural KwaZulu-Natal Midlands every two months to make sure that her family received the money she earned.

The round trip amounted to two full days of travelling by taxi and bus.

Today, she enjoys the convenience of sending money to her family via FNB’s mobile money solution, eWallet, which saves her time and travel expenses.

Mobile money involves the use of a cellphone to transfer funds between people and bank accounts, deposit or withdraw, pay bills or buy things like airtime and electricity.

Recent figures show Ndlovu is just one of many who are benefiting from the use of mobile money.

Yolande van Wyk, the chief executive of eWallet Solutions at FNB, says in the last financial year, eWallet showed strong growth in its African operations with a 119% year-on-year increase and 390 000 cards ordered in the last year.

The total number of eWallets in use now stands at 2.5 million, an 84% increase from the previous financial year.

But FNB is not the only player in the mobile-money space. The big four banks all have a mobile-money offering. Standard Bank has Instant Money, Absa was the forerunner in the market

with CashSend and Nedbank partnered with Vodacom in 2010 to launch m-pesa in South Africa.

Nedbank seems to have the lowest fee structure while FNB’s tiered fees seem to be fairly high compared with other mobile-money offerings.

But you should not choose a mobile-money option based on cost alone.

You also need to check whether the person receiving the money needs to be registered on the same mobile-money offering.

You may also find you are charged lower fees if the recipient is registered on the same mobile-money offering that you choose to use.

What the banks offer

FNB’s eWallet  

To send money via cellphone banking, you  have to:

» Dial *120*321# and select “send money”

» Select eWallet

» Select the account you want to send money from

» Enter the cellphone number of the person you want to send money to

» Enter the amount you want to send

» You can choose to have FNB send the recipient an ATM PIN via SMS

» The ATM PIN is only valid for 30 minutes

» Confirm the transaction details are correct

» The recipient can withdraw their cash at any FNB ATM using the PIN that they have been sent


Daily limit: R1 500

Balance limit: R3 000


R8.50 to send between R20 and R1 000

R12.50 to send between R1 000 and R2 000

R16.50 to send between R2 000 and R3 000

Nedbank’s M-Pesa

» You have to register an m-pesa account at a Nedbank branch or Vodacom-approved outlet.

» Deposit money into your Vodacom m-pesa account at a Nedbank or Vodacom branch.

» To get to the m-pesa menu on your cellphone, dial *130*7372#

» Enter the phone number of the person you are sending money to.

» Enter the amount you are sending.

» Enter a four-digit PIN.

» Confirm all the transaction details are correct.

» The person you sent the money to will receive a six-digit authorisation code, which is valid for two hours. They can withdraw their cash at any Nedbank ATM, branch or Vodacom outlet using the authorisation code.

» You can send money to anyone with a cellphone, even if they are not registered for m-pesa or are on a different mobile network.


Standard customers

Daily limit:  R1 000,

Monthly and annual limit: R13 000

Premium customers

Daily limit: R5 000,

Monthly limit: R25 000

Annual limit: R300 000


R2.45 to send between R10 and R5 000 to a registered m-pesa user. R10 to send between

R10 and R1 000 to someone not registered for m-pesa. Withdrawals are free, unless you withdraw between R5 000 and R10 000, in which case there is a flat fee of R10.

Absa’s CashSend

Absa clients can send money to anyone with  a South African cellphone number.

» You have to choose a six-digit PIN that you then send to the recipient, together with the amount of money you have transferred.

» Absa then sends the recipient a unique  10-digit PIN.

» They can then redeem the money at any  Absa ATM by selecting CashSend and entering  the six-digit PIN, the amount of money and  the 10-digit PIN.


Minimum amount: R50

Transaction limit: R1 000

Daily limit: R3 000

Monthly limit: R25 000


R7.90 basic charge plus an ad-valorem charge  of R1.15 per R100. For example, the cost of sending R100 via CashSend will be R9.05  (R7.90 + R1.15), while sending R200 will  cost you R10.20 (R7.90 + R1.15 + R1.15).

Standard Bank’s Instant Money

You can send Instant Money through three different channels: retail shopping partners, internet banking or your cellphone. To send Instant Money via a retail partner, you will need to:

» Produce your ID;

» Pay the teller the amount of money you want to send;

» Enter the cellphone number of the person you are sending money to;

» Choose a four-digit PIN and send it to the recipient; and

» The recipient then uses the four-digit PIN

to redeem the money at a retail partner.

To send money via online banking, visit

To send money via your cellphone, you need to:

» Download an Instant Money wallet from Standard Bank’s wallet partners, such as Mxit; and

» Register a master PIN.


You can send up to R5 000 a day and R25 000  a month.


R9.95 per transaction. Note there are no costs if you use your cellphone to send Instant Money to another registered Instant Money user.

» Talk to us: Who do you send mobile money to?

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