Airtel Zambia, the country’s largest mobile operator, and Zanaco, the largest financial institution in Zambia, announced this past week the launch of a new mobile money banking service called Cultiv8 – targeted at farmers. The mobile banking service will ride on the Airtel Money platform and is basically a bank account designed to provide farmers easier access to financial services.
The difference between the regular Airtel Money wallet and the Cultiv8 account is the Cultiv8 is more a bank account than a e-wallet. Think of it as mobile money and mobile banking brought together to complement each other seamlessly.
The trend on the continent has been that mobile operators are looking for ways to provide banking services such as savings accounts and loans via mobile money. The services are usually provided in partnership with a financial institution.
In a release sent out to the press on the launch of Cultiv8, Charity Lumpa – the Airtel MD – says that the partnership will give the Zambian economy a boost as this means more jobs will be created through the additional Agents that will serve the farmers.
The Zanaco MD, Martyn Schouten, added that a problem in the farming sector is that only 20% of the 1 million small-scale farmers in the country have bank accounts. The new service will attract more farmers to bank their money and to get access to other financial services that help them be more productive.
With the high number of farmers who are unbanked and cash out their payments each marketing season to bury in their homesteads, it is high time a product was created. Given the existing drive we have seen Zanaco recruit XAPIT customers outside their branches, this should result in improved access to finance for Zambia’s many small-scale farmers. Airtel brings in a platform that can be used to deliver more comprehensive mobile banking across its customer base, giving Zanaco a new market opportunity. This is also in addition to the strategic partnership with Zoona, an existing mobile money transfr service which relied on heavy investment in setting up a distribution network across Zambia. Not only in Cultiv8 more secure and robust, it is a product that can transform the landscape o f mobile payments in Zambia.