Tanzanian satellite-based money transfer system may be ‘game changer’

By our News Team | 2023

AzamPesa mobile money wallet set to close the gap between urban and rural areas in terms of access to financial products and solutions?

For marketers and brands doing business with rural consumers in Africa, one of the challenges has long been the ‘cash only’ economy which limits the products and services that can be easily sold to this audience.

But new digital solutions, enabled by the growth of internet coverage and cheaper smartphones, are rapidly changing the market as people embrace money transfers and simple POS systems.

Consumer Payments

Photo via AzamPay Facebook page

The latest example is Tanzania’s AzamPay, a specialist in the development of end-to-end online payment management solutions for companies operating in East Africa.

It has just launched satellite-based payments via AzamPesa, a new mobile money wallet for Tanzania that is claimed to be the first mobile money wallet not directly associated with a mobile network operator. 

The service allows users to send, receive and make digital payments through their mobile phones. Importantly, AzamPesa’s satellite connectivity enables payments in areas where telecom networks or internet services are unavailable.

Millions of Tanzanians have no financial-related connectivity

“More than 8-million Tanzanians live in areas where there is no financial-related connectivity of any kind,” says Firas Ahmad, Group CEO of AzamPay, in a LinkedIn post.

“In these circumstances, individuals must travel to other villages or areas where they can get a network signal [and] sometimes this can take hours. No network means no access to basic payments and financial services.”

According to Ahmad, the satellite-based solution eliminates the need for travel by allowing registered AzamPesa customers to transact in their village with only an AzamPesa card. 

The card is tapped on a POS device operated by an AzamPesa agent in that village and, once the user taps the card, they can navigate the menu on the POS device and make payments, send money, or cash out after entering their pin.

Ahmad says satellite connectivity is universally available and the data requirements for payment transactions are very small. Connecting payments to a satellite signal uplink is a way of solving a problem for rural residents that has remained an issue since mobile money became prevalent in Tanzania and Africa via telecom networks.

The Tanzanian technology newsletter, Atoms + Bits, believes the new service is a “huge milestone for East Africa, and perhaps for the entire African continent”.

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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.