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Shaka Mobile introduces mobile money transfer service

May 5, 2010

transferShaka Mobile has partnered with TransferTo to provide a mobile money transfer service for Diaspora Africans in the United States.

Diaspora Africans, travelers and foreigners who are using a Shaka Mobile prepaid mobile phone and mobile money transfer service in the U.S. can recharge the prepaid mobile phone of their relatives back home. The sender can use the service via SMS or Shaka’s Web site.

“The strategy is to focus on such companies that target first- and second-generation immigrants in developed economies like the U.S. and Western Europe,” said Eric Barbier, CEO of TransferTo, Singapore.

“The service is positioned as a complement to money remittance that allows immigrants to send back home high-recurrence, small-value gifts to their relatives,” he said. “Such traditional money remittance services are in contrast efficient for larger amounts with low recurrence.”

Shaka is a prepaid mobile service company offering voice plans and mobile money transfer to Diaspora Africans in the U.S.

TransferTo operates a global mobile airtime network enabling small value transfers through mobile phones.

Mobile money transfers
Shaka subscribers can send a wireless recharge to their relatives, for example, in Kenya and the payment is debited from subscribers’ Shaka prepaid balance. 

The service is accessible via SMS so it works on any mobile device.

Additionally, Shaka has a Java application, but given the high usage of SMS among immigrants, it is the best mechanism to conduct the transaction, according to the company.

“There are multiple cost-effective ways to raise awareness of the service,” Mr. Barbier said. “The carrier can identify international callers and send them an SMS to inform the availability of the service.

“The end-user would just need to reply with a keyword – for instance SEND for English, RECARGA for Spanish, FA for Mandarin – and the application will take over from there,” he said.

Here is a screen shot of the SMS end user experience:


Marketing tactics
TransferTo plans to run specific campaigns and bonus promotions during Ramadan and Christmas for the service.

In addition, the campaign features several languages, including English, Hindu, Polish, Arab, Bahasa, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese and Spanish.

“Multiple channels could be used to conduct the airtime transfer or international top-up as many call it,” Mr. Barbier said. “Web site and POS are examples, however mobile is king.

“It provides the immediacy, ubiquity and availability that the service requires,” he said. “Immigrants send on average three recharges a month to their relatives during lunch and after work. 

“We see also a lot of activity around religious festivals such as Diwali, Christmas and Chinese New Year, so mobile is really well adapted to cater for this mix of regular and asynchronous transactions.”

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Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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