Airtel Rwanda and I&M bank, in partnership with Rwandan m-commerce developer R-Switch, have launched a service that allows Airtel Money customers to withdraw cash from I&M ATMs using their mobile phones. To use the ATM service, an Airtel Money customers select the ATM withdrawal operation on their phone’s SIM card menu and are then sent a six-digit code via SMS, which they enter into the ATM.
As we have noted before, the m-commerce sector in developing countries, especially in Africa, is vibrant in part because relatively few residents have traditional bank accounts, with services offered by MNOs, such as Airtel Money, acting as substitutes. Now Airtel Rwanda is going a step further by partnering with a bank to give subscribers who do not have bank accounts access to cash. As I&M managing director Sanjeev Anand put it in a statement, “This service will be instrumental in extending financial services to the underbanked segments in Rwanda.” The term m-commerce need not be limited to cashless payments.