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Dialog 'eZ cash' attracts 800,000

Sri Lanka's first ever mobile money service Dialog 'eZ Cash', introduced by Dialog Axiata, is getting popular day by day among its customers and the company has announced that around 800,000 new customers have registered with the 'eZ cash' service since its launch in June, 2012.

The 'eZ Cash' offers payment solutions to people without access to traditional financial service institutions. This service enables over 7.5 million Dialog active subscribers to make secure cashless transactions from any Dialog mobile phone at any given time. Customers could now send and receive money, settle utility bills and make payments for goods and services through the Dialog mobile phone at a cheaper transfer fee.


Fariq Cader, Senior General Manager Dialog Axiata PLC. Picture by-Nissanka Wijeratne

"Users could deposit and withdraw money through a network of merchants. The 'eZ Cash' generates revenue by taking a fee on utility payments, money transfers and money withdrawals, while these three segments would be the only points where customer would be charged. "From all other points, we would be charging from the merchants, while the customer does not have to bear the charge.

In terms of sending money, withdrawal charges could be borne from the person sending the money," said Fariq Cader, Senior General Manager, New Business Development and Mobile Commerce at Dialog Axiata PLC.

This service has been approved by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, while Dialog is the first company to receive the license under the Payment And Settlement Systems Act, No. 28 of 2005 to carry out mobile money service in Sri Lanka. Since the launch of the product, 'eZ Cash' service has seen a significant growth in Sri Lanka. 'eZ Cash' allows Dialog account holders to transfer money to anyone within the borders of the country in which the service operates. The recipient does not need a bank account. The 'eZ Cash' enables Dialog customers to have a Cash Account in their mobile phone into which they could top-up money and then carry out a range of cash transactions direct from their mobile phone. Customers could also withdraw money from their 'eZ Cash' account whenever they wish to.

"Most people are unbanked in Sri Lanka. People have huge problems in terms of attending to financial transactions. If they need to transfer money to somebody or make utility payments, the hassles that the people have to go through are enormous. We have professionals who find it hard to cope up with their activities or time for utility payments, daily settlements. In this context, what we are concerned is their time factor.

For example, if a rural customer needs to make a utility or Dialog bill payment, he or she has to go all the way to the town. With this concept, we are trying to avoid these hassles that people have to undergo.

This had been our initial concept for introducing this service which had been successful in certain countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Afghanistan and many parts of the African region.

Mobile Money Service is not something new to the world. Dialog has introduced this unique service which is already taking place throughout the world. Currently, we could see a lot of transactions taking place in mobile payments and utility bill payments through mobile money accounts which had extremely attracted customers.

"Currently, some local small businesses are running their entire businesses through the 'eZ Cash' mobile money service. What we wanted is to introduce micro finance, micro savings, micro insurance and products which were not very much prevalent in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankans are traditionally very much in favour of savings, but they have a problem of how to reap the real benefit of savings," said Cader.

Every 'eZ cash' money transaction is fully protected with a subscriber defined pin number and secured by 3DES authentication, which is the international standard for Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security. Even though someone loses his or her mobile phone or SIM, the mobile account would be safe and no one would be able to hack it due to these special features.

Our systems are audited, verified, checked by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and the custodian services, for this efforts would be provided by Hatton National Bank PLC, while the Trustee would be the Deutsche Bank. Although the customer need not have to possess a bank account for registration purposes, all the money had to be physically kept by Dialog in one account ,where we would deposit the entire sum of money into that. So, the Central Bank in this case, has been very concerned towards the customer protection.

They have even gone to the extent of finding out what would happen if Dialog went bankrupt. Under Liquidation Laws and the Company's Act, all assets and liabilities of the customers woud be sucked into a pool, which would provide additional protection to the customers.

Commenting on the mobile money industry, Cader said ,"Sri Lanka is extremely at its infancy stage and it's more of a virgin market right now. Dialog is the first to introduce mobile money service in Sri Lanka and still, no body has reached up to that level. However, the entire experience has been a success so far.

Currently, 'eZ Cash' service is available to Dialog customers only. According to Cader, Dialog had already requested other local operators to be part of this unique initiative, where this service would be available to all mobile subscribers in the country, irrespective of their network. "It doesn't make any sense to have two or three or eco systems, since building this echo system is costly. In future, we would hopefully be able to transfer money from one Dialog customer to a non dialog customer and non subscriber would be able to send money to a dialog customer."

Dialog is also bringing in additional merchants, specially web merchants apart, from big time merchants like Abans, Keells Super and Laughs Super markets. With this initiative, customers are now able to pay web bills and Dialog is further signing up with more web merchants to extend this service.

Dialog has already implemented this service with most sought e-business sites such as ibuy.lk, mydeal.lk and Anything.lk. With this, 'eZ Cash' would be an ideal payment option for online customers to purchase products as opposed to other widely used payment options such as visa and master cards.

Loading money for 'eZ Cash' accounts would be possible at 12,000 plus retail merchants across the country which includes small groceries, 'game kade,' communication stores, and welfare societies.

"We are now concentrating more on strategic merchants, apart from retail merchants . We have non merchants like Cargills, Keells Super and Laugfs Super markets; which predominantly address the needs of professional post paid crowd. In addition, we have Abans, DSI, Singer, Hameedia, Pizza Hut, Singer and others on board."

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