By Hassan Ibrahim Conteh
A leading mobile operator, in Sierra Leone, Orange, has signed Bank2Wallet partnership with Ecobank Sierra Leone Limited. The Bank2wallet (B2W) is a mobile money banking service that allows Orange Money customers to withdraw and deposit cash into their bank accounts using their mobile phones.
At the launching ceremony, the Chief Executive Officer of Orange Money Sierra Leone, David Mansaray, says the partnership is geared toward improving ‘financial inclusion’ and strengthening entrepreneurship across the country.
“I am excited to see the start of a new charter of Ecobank -Orange relationship today. This is a huge step because, for instance, a customer from Bafordia, in Kambia district, could withdraw money using Bank2wallet service where Ecobank doesn’t exist,” he said at a program held at Ecobank’s office on 5th November this year.
With the aid of the B2B product, Mr. Mansaray says, someone could pay EDSA electricity bills through it and could send and withdraw money in his or her account, adding that the process reduces long queues.
“We now encourage you [Ecobank] to increase our financial base and customer base and to satisfy our customers,” he said.
The B2W platform would allow customers to transfer as low as Le10,000 to fifteen million Leones (Le15,000,000) per day to and from their respective bank accounts into Orange Money wallets. This is made possible through Orange Money short code #144# with the aid of a customer’s password [four digits number] used to send and remove any deposited money from the Ecobank account.
The registration for the B2W service is free, but there is a commission attached to the Bank2wallet service in the process of any transaction done by the customer. In her statement, the Managing Director of Ecobank Sierra Leone Limited, Aina Wright Moore, revealed that the move to reach such partnership started since 2016, but that both parties were unable to reach an agreement at the time.
“We knew that it is an offering that our customers needed. Because banking is not where you go but what you do. Now our customers will be able to transfer their money from Orange Money Wallet to Ecobank account,” she explained.
As a result of technology and globalization many financial institutions are accelerating their marketing options in a bid to attract and retain their loyal customers. There has been, Madam Moore said, a digital financial revolution, which has digitalized every other part of our lives.
The partnership, she believes, will create a mutual beneficial relationship, noting they are now able to give their customers what they are looking for.
“From our corporate [department] to our retail [department], Ecobank continues to provide solutions to our customers digitally. We have so many different products; this is just an additional one to actually reach a certain group of our customers. We are doing digital expansion to the point that we may not need people physically in our Ecobanks across the country,” she assured.
She added: “We know other financial players in the market have other facilities. But we have a mobile app, a cashless ATM withdrawal and other products in our outlet that make the partnership different from the experience in our banks.”
At present, there are about one million active Orange Money users across Sierra Leone, one of the board members disclosed. In the process of officially launching the service, Madam Aminata Kane Ndiaye, Chairwoman of Orange Money Finance, welcomed Ecobank as their new partner, noting that they both share personal relationships.
“We are so happy to welcome Ecobank in the bank-to-wallet and wallet-to-bank. We share personal relationship. It is a choice that we have made. And it is that choice we want both our customers to share together,” Madam Ndiaye noted.
She added: “So we are more than happy to open up our base of customers with Ecobank for them to provide our customers top much banking service the same way we look for our own customer with top much mobile wallet service. To intensify its partnership with some banking institutions, across the country, Orange Money Finance has recently launched its Bank2Wallet with different banks such as Sierra Leone Commercial Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, Zenith Bank and Access Bank. Orange Money Finance Sierra Leone continues to play an integral role in the business sector.
It is believed that such partnerships would give more credence to Orange Money transaction in terms of transparency and accountability with the aim of giving their customers value added services that are convenient, affordable, user friendly, safe and secured.
As the company continues to increase the list of its partners, thereby signing new partnership deals with local banks and other relevant institutions, it is determined to ensuring that its valued customers have ‘quick access’ with ‘ease and convenience.’