Nation Media Group (NMG) has launched a money transfer service that will leverage on the large number of visits to its websites to attract remittances from the diaspora.
The service dubbed NationHela allows customers to send and receive money from anywhere in the world with the funds being credited straight into their NationHela prepaid Visa cards, from which there are withdrawal or user options.
“NationHela offers our readers in the diaspora the convenience of being able to send money back home at the click of a button while they are catching up with their news online,” said NMG’s chief executive officer Linus Gitahi.
He said the service would serve the more than 2.6 million Kenyans who regularly receive money from relatives and friends living abroad.
Nation’s website receives over one million visitors per month — 40 per cent of whom live in the diaspora.
“Recipients no longer need to travel long distances to a money transfer agent or queue to receive cash since they can access it instantly on their mobile phones or prepaid cards,” he said.
He said the transactional fees were about 30 per cent less than those charged by leading money transfer services.
Diamond Trust Bank (DTB) will provide the technology for the service as well as a customer care centre for card/account holders.
DTB chief executive Nasim Devji said a third of the people who receive money from abroad use the funds on food, clothes, medicine, housing and settling utility bills.
“NationHela has been designed to cater for these types of expenses,” said Ms Devji. She said the service has the banking of dedicated local and international service providers.
The NationHela card will be retailing at Sh500 and is available at DTB’s 40 branches as well as Nakumatt and Uchumi supermarket stores across the country.
For a limited period, the card will be on an offer where buyers will have them topped up with the purchase price amount for free.
Upon purchasing the card, users can activate it using their mobile phones by dialling the USSD code *348# and following the prompts.
Thereafter, a user can top up the card through deposits in DTB branches, NationHela agents or directly from M-pesa and Airtel Money accounts. The cards will also be directly topped up when remittances are sent to the user.
From the specific mobile phone registered with the NationHela card or online, users can send money to other NationHela accounts, view their balances and request for statements and pay utility bills.
It is also possible for users to buy goods from outlets that have the Visa facility and withdraw money from Visa ATMs.
“A key feature of this card is that it allows you to make ATM withdrawals of money which has been sent to your PayPal account. Currently, local PayPal users lack this facility that is still missing in the country,” said Ian Fernandes, the NMG Digital Division managing director.
According to recent statistics by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), remittances from Kenyans working abroad increased by 46.7 per cent in the first half of this year with money received climbing to a six-year high of Sh50.67 billion ($596.23 million), compared to Sh34.55 billion ($406.55 million) in a similar period last year.
Last week, NMG posted half-year profit before tax of Sh1.3 billion up from Sh1.1 billion the previous year, an increase of 23.4 per cent.