First National Bank (FNB) has expanded its cross-border prepaid airtime top-up service into Lesotho.
The cross-border prepaid airtime service allows registered South African FNB cellphone banking customers to purchase prepaid airtime for recipients in another country, and is currently free of bank charges.
According to research done by the GSMA, there are about 150-million mobile phone subscribers in sub-Saharan Africa.
"Given the current growth predictions for the mobile phone industry, First National Bank (FNB) plans to maximise on these opportunities to expand its footprint within the continent," says Yolande Van Wyk, head of expansion for FNB Mobile & Transact Solutions.
The system allows real-time cross border prepaid airtime top-ups using cellphone banking from FNB and is available 24 hours a day.
Any Vodacom Lesotho customer can now receive prepaid airtime from relatives and friends in South Africa who are registered with FNB cellphone banking.
"There`s a lot of travelling between Lesotho and South Africa as Lesotho is a landlocked country, people travel for leisure as well as business," says Tsabiso Letsoela, executive head of commercial at Vodacom Lesotho.
Letsoela says that any products that assist in trade and facilitate communication will always have a positive impact in the market.
A survey conducted in Lesotho in 2003 found that 37% of the people interviewed reported a family member working in South Africa and 26% reported a family member permanently settled there.
"This will help ease communication tremendously for many Basotho that have relatives residing or working in South Africa," Letsoela says.
According to Van Wyk, cross-border prepaid airtime top-ups are cost effective, efficient and the most convenient way of ensuring that your family at home can stay connected.
Cross-border international prepaid airtime purchases are available only in South Africa and customers can top up numbers in Namibia (MCT) and Lesotho (Vodacom).
FNB plans to expand the service to a number of other African countries.