Afrocoin launches in a few days. What do they bring to diaspora remittances?

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By Zimbabwe Investor on October 1, 2013. No Comments

TECHZIM – Remember the new international money transfer startup called Afrocoin that we wrote about back in June? Then, they were just a profile on Crunchbase and a few screenshots here and there promising the service would be live in a couple of months. They are here. Afrocoin is launching. The startup got in touch over the past couple of days and they let us sample the web service before its opened to the world.

In terms of the actual function of the service its mostly as we imagined in terms of it being an international remittance service that users access via apps – web and mobile. But it’s more a Mukuru than we thought. In a lot of ways actually. More on that later, in the meantime, here’s bullet summary of what Afrocoin does:

  • Users of the service can transfer money from anywhere in the world to recipients in Africa, starting first with Zimbabwe and South Africa then Kenya and Uganda later.
  • In Zimbabwe, Afrocoin has partnered Allied Bank (yes, there’s a nasty website error the other end of that link right now) which we’re taking to mean recipients will be able to withdraw their cash from the bank’s branches. In June, information suggested Afrocoin already had 90 agents, but with the Allied Bank website offline, it’s hard to determine how many branches etc…. so that’s still open. Allied is the former ZABG by the way.
  • In South Africa, Afrocoin has partnered a foreign exchange services company called Sikhona FX Financial
  • From what we can tell, Afrocoin will not launch with Kenya and Uganda live but the promise is that Diasporans will be able to send money straight to M-PESA accounts in those countries. And I’m sure you’re probably wondering why not EcoCash accounts here in Zimbabwe. Our guess, if they went ahead and asked Econet, is that the answer was no.. mostly because Econet has already starting a Diaspora remittance.
  • Using the service, Diasporans are also able to top up the mobile phone credit of recipients. This is a service already available through existing competition.
  • In terms of transfer fees, a transfer to Zimbabwe would cost a minimum of US $5 for amounts less than $50 (9%) and go up to as much as $35 to transfer $500 (6%).

Which brings us to what Afrocoin is bringing to the market that’s new. The service is looking similar to Mukuru.com in terms of the means to transfer – mobile and web. Mukuru however still have more country channels and a way larger & mature agent network across the markets they send to. The only possible competition point we are seeing Afrocoin bringing to the market is the transfer fee? But the total cost of a transfer is not just the quoted fee on the sender end; it’s the convenience of the whole transaction process, and it doesn’t seem Afrocoin matches Mukuru right now, or that they’ll match the EcoCash Diaspora mobile money service when it launches.

Going over Afrocoin’s service, we were left wondering what the “mobile money” in “Afrocoin mobile money” is, which was dampening a bit. We expected the new and different that their name suggests. What we got is a fledgling version of stuff that’s already there. That doesn’t of course mean they don’t have a chance to fill some gaps left by those that are here already. We just aren’t as excited as we were. But then again, we don’t live in the Diaspora, our view is not exactly the target market’s.

If you a Diasporan and you’re wondering how you can access Afrocoin when it launches the video below explains:

Soul Kabweza is a Zimbabwean technology writer who blogs at techzim.co.zw where this article was originally posted. He can be contacted directly on kabweza@techzim.co.zw