Cape Town startup Mama Money has launched today, claiming it will save immigrants and refugees from across the continent living in South Africa up to 270 per cent on their current remittance fees when sending money home.
Mama Money is the first purely homegrown South African company to be licensed by the South African Reserve Bank as an Authorised Dealer with Limited Authority (ADLA), and claims to be the world’s first social business money transfer operator.
The company says it has been established to compete with the already established money transfer companies, using the internet and mobile phones to send money quickly and at a lower cost, charging a no-hidden fee of five per cent with no margin charged on the exchange rate.
“For centuries people have crossed borders seeking better opportunities for themselves and their families. These migrants have sought improved economic opportunities to send money home regularly. This process of low-value person to person money transfer is known as international remittance,” said Mama Money co-founders Raphael Grojnowski and Mathieu Coquillon.
“All too often international remittances form the sole lifeline for a migrant’s family and millions depend on remittances for survival. International remittance is the single biggest financial flow into Africa, exceeding foreign investment and official development assistance (international aid),” said Coquillon.
According to the World Bank, South Africa is the most expensive country in the world from which to send out low value remittances, specifically to neighbouring countries in the region. The average cost to send the equivalent of US$200 from South Africa to neighbouring countries is 18.69 per cent, well above the global remittance price average of 8.9 per cent.
The business will specifically focus on Zimbabweans living and working in South Africa during its first phase, offering immediate transactions, and eliminating the need for cash.
“With 1.9 million Zimbabweans living in South Africa, the first phase for Mama Money is to focus on the South Africa – Zimbabwe remittance corridor,” said Coquillon.
“By simply registering through a Mama Money Agent, customers are able to send money online using their cellphone to relatives mobile wallet accounts.”
The co-founders said they had settled on the name because millions of people send money home to their mothers, who form the backbone of the African family and economy.
“At Mama Money, we approach things quite differently. We want to create a business that tackles a social problem, the high cost to send money home for low-income earners. As a business, rather than just being driven by profit, our model is to be profit-minimising. Also, if the entire market reduces its commission costs to our level, then we have achieved what we set out for,” they said.
The startup has partnered with leading Zimbabwean financial institution CABS, a subsidiary of Old Mutual, to provide remittance services on the CABS Textacash mobile banking platform.