Pan-African operator Airtel Africa and leading international banking group Standard Chartered Bank have announced a strategic collaboration to drive financial inclusion across key markets in Africa by providing customers with increased access to mobile financial services.
The partners say they will work together to co-create new, innovative products aimed at enhancing the accessibility of financial services.
Specifically, Airtel Money’s customers will be able to make real-time online deposits and withdrawals from Standard Chartered bank accounts, receive international money transfers directly to their wallets, and access savings products, among other services.
Standard Chartered’s corporate clients will also be able to make rapid and secure bulk disbursements, such as payroll payments, directly into the Airtel Money customer’s wallet. This the partners say, reduces the risks associated with travelling long distances for cash payments; instead customers can go to any Airtel Money agent, kiosk or branch to cash out their funds.
Standard Chartered notes that by partnering with mobile wallet providers, the bank has expanded its network into markets where mobile wallets are prevalent – and it is far from the only financial institution to pursue this course.
Many major names – from Mastercard and Visa to NSIA and Ecobank – have embraced the opportunities of mobile or cashless banking for reaching a larger potential market, especially as, since the arrival of Covid-19, the attractions of cashless banking to both governments and consumers have been greatly enhanced.
Nor is this the only such deal agreed by Airtel. As recently as July it announced a partnership with African remittance organisation Mukuru. The partnership will enable Mukuru customers to instantly send cross-border transfers directly to Airtel Money customers' wallets in 12 African countries.