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Orascom to launch mobile banking

New subsidiary to offer m-banking to 70 million customers across seven countries

Orascom Telecom recently announced plans to launch mobile banking services via a newly established subsidiary.

The service, which will be launched this year, will allow mobile users to access banking services and make money transfers. Orascom will make the service available to its 70 million customers in the seven countries in which it operates.

Naguib Sawiris, chairman of the Egyptian telecoms group, told the Financial Times that mobile banking is a natural extension of the services it offers and that the company already enjoys a strong customer base to take full advantage.

"It's not something that I'm starting from scratch," Sawiris said. "I have the subscribers. They were just doing e-mail, [text message] and voice. Now I'm going to tell them you can use this for banking."

Mobile banking is thought to become a major revenue bringer in emerging markets, where many people do not have access to bank accounts and seek a convenient and cost-effective solution. Vodafone's service, M-PESA, has already enjoyed widespread acclaim after its run in Kenya, where it picked up 1.6 million customers, and now looks to be rolled-out in Tanzania by Vodacom.

Sawiris said Orascom would create another subsidiary to manage operations in smaller countries.