Secure financial services for the 50% of South Africans that don’t have bank accounts


How a clever financial services business with a benevolent intent is offering security and convenience to the millions of Africans that don’t have bank accounts but need to protect their money

Broadly Risks


Firetrench Directory

TYME (Take Your Money Everywhere) is a business that provides a low-cost, simple and secure mobile payments service to the financially disenfranchised. It is thriving in Southern African countries – where nearly half the adult population does not have a bank account – and giving bigger, traditional financial institutions a run for their money.

TYME is a mobile-only bank available to anyone over 16 with a South African mobile phone number. If you have a mobile phone in South Africa, with a minimum of fuss, you can now have a device that will store, send and transact with virtual cash, quickly and securely.

TYME was launched last year by African telecommunications company MTN, in partnership with Pick n Pay and Boxer stores, and is a distribution channel of the South African Bank of Athens.

The genius of TYME is it gives users the ability to transact via their often-rudimentary mobile phones without the need for a bank account – and it costs nothing to sign up.

It costs nothing to sign up to TYME. People can deposit and withdraw cash at registered stores that they call ‘till-points’. To deposit, you dial a number and enter your mobile pin number. After selecting ‘deposit’ from a simple audio menu you get sent a unique code that is valid for 15 minutes. That code is presented to the cashier along with the money you wish to deposit, and an SMS confirms the amount deposited. Users have safe and secure money on their mobile device that only they are able to access.

The genius of the TYME proposition is that it gives its user base the ability to transact via their often-rudimentary mobile phones without the need for a bank account.

TYME achieves this through the simplicity of its processes and by partnering with world-class customer service specialists like KANA to deliver multi-channel support across the mobile devices that its customers use. By partnering with KANA, TYME has effectively turned basic mobile phones into payment devices that help the consumer every step of the way. TYME’s user base are unfamiliar with banking processes, so providing them with fast and friendly mobile support was the main criterion for the selection of KANA.

The business is growing rapidly and is doing so without having to take on all the burdensome infrastructure requirements faced by traditional banking businesses. In turn, TYME can offer its users an efficient service and all the support and help they require at very low cost.

Rolf Eichweber, Director and Chief Operating Officer of TYME said:

“Our starting point for TYME was the creation of a business that would genuinely help the millions of South Africans without bank accounts to carry their money safely, securely and at virtually no cost. The team has worked for many years in the banking industry and we came to this business with insights into what customers really need and what banks make out of serving that need. We decided to create a business that brought our objectives closer together – a simple, easy-to-use service that costs little and serves the needs of many.”

“We started in our home country of South Africa because it has one of the strictest regulatory environments in the world. If we can make a business as innovative as ours work in South Africa, we can make it work anywhere.”

“We were keen to get up and running as soon as possible. The KANA technology had to be bespoke enough to deal with the unique circumstances and, counter-intuitively, had to cope with legacy technology in the hands of the user base. We had a KANA team on the ground within days of signing our agreement and we had our customer support infrastructure for launch done and dusted – design, testing, go live – in no time at all.”

“It’s this speed and flexibility that is critical to us. We have certainly created a degree of nervousness in the banking community, particularly amongst traditional banks. We are far more nimble, our business model is very simple, we don’t hold capital and yet we offer a service that meets the needs of most everyday transacting citizens. It raises the question: why do I need anything more complicated than this? From a user perspective, the money is held virtually and securely on their mobile phone.”

“Our next market is Namibia. It’s a small country, and for us that makes it a great candidate for international deployment, and also gives us a great opportunity to empower Namibians, many of whom don’t hold traditional bank accounts. The KANA team will be central to our deployment there as well.”

Simplifying Everyday Transactions

Sending money is simple. The service works via calling and SMS to link a user’s mobile number to their account.

A user’s mobile number is linked to their TYME account balance, they phone the number, enter their PIN and the number of whom they wish to send money to, followed by the amount. When money is sent, if the person receiving it doesn’t have an account they’re prompted to register to access it.

Users can also use the service to buy electricity and pay for goods in partner stores. It’s quicker, safer and more convenient, and registration can be completed on Pick n Pay and Boxer sites as well as directly by phone.

TYME accounts have a balance limit and monthly spend limit of R25 000 (£1650), and a daily spend limit of R1000 (£66).
This service works via calling and SMS which link the mobile number to the account.

Describing TYME’s relationship with KANA, Rolf Eichweber said: “I have worked with KANA divisions for a decade and I knew that we needed an IT provider that understood our objectives and could act very quickly. What KANA offers is the Holy Grail – a single view of the customer. For us this is absolutely essential. Our customer base needs support and we need to help them quickly at every juncture. KANA offers simplicity, agility and consistency and second-guesses what we require. They talk about customer needs more than they talk about widgets and in a business that is trying to offer financially disenfranchised citizens their first degree of fiscal security, understanding their needs is utterly essential. Putting everything in place to support our customers round the clock by voice and SMS took KANA just ten weeks which in the context of financial services is a breathtakingly efficient result.”

TYME has its eyes on other emerging economies where citizens are embracing mobile technology but are not as confident in their use of financial services. For now, though, its eyes are firmly on supporting citizens of African nations. “We’re determined to get this right,” said Rolf Eichweber. “We have bigger aspirations, but all in good time.”

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