Juba – South Sudan has launched its first-ever mobile money transfer service in Juba last week. The aim of m-GURUSH (m-for mobile and GURUSH for money in Arabic) is to make it easier to transfer money, as well as create new job opportunities in South Sudan.
The mobile based financial service platform is a joint partnership between South Sudan’s Trinity Technologies Limited and Zain Telecoms South Sudan.
Licenced by the Bank of South Sudan and the National Communications Authority of South Sudan, m-GURUSH allows users without bank accounts to access banking services through outlets spread across the country.
The virtual banking system allows users to access services through a Zain Network SIM card that is compatible with all of South Sudan’s mobile networks. Once activated, the SIM will allow users to transfer money to family or make payments to vendors. The service is also available on UUSD or as a downloadable Mobile App.
Minister Michael Makuei, South Sudan’s Technology and Communications Minister, said the launch of m-GURUSH will make it easier for the people of South Sudan to transact. After years of war and graft the country had earned the opportunity to build an economy that works for them.
Describing m-GURUSH as a great achievement, the Minster added, “The most important part of this ICT sector is not only to make money, but also to provide services to our people – we need to render effective and efficient services to our people.”
m-GURUSH, Minister Makuei continued, “…will provide better service to people who are badly in need. So many people have been moving all the way to come to Juba to receive their money. With m-GURUSH, the services will reach our people wherever they are. This is very important, because our people will be getting better.”
The Minister added that the government was aware of the enormity of the task ahead for Trinity Technologies Limited and its partner. The launch of the service was only the beginning of a new technology based future for South Sudan. Mobile money will promote broad digitization of the economy: mobile money customers will not just have access to an account, but rather to a full suite of services that are relevant to their daily lives, encouraging them to keep their funds in digital form and building resilience to financial shocks.”
Mr Joseph Arianaitwe, Vice President of Trinity Technologies Limited, echoed the Minister in saying, “Today, we celebrate a great milestone. This is a dream come true – and to ensure people of South Sudan, the financial landscape has now been changed for the better and forever. “m-GURUSH is not only about technology – m-Gurush is about positively impacted lives – as we roll out the services, we would like to assure the people that the transaction – the way, they will interact with money – the way, they will move money – the way, they will receive money, will be more convenient, will be safe and secure – this is our pledges and the commitment to great people of South Sudan.”
SMEs inclusion and women in business in South Sudan
He added that the entire platform is supported by state of the art IT infrastructure that ensures stability across the system and peace of mind for customers. The platform will allow customers a suite of services that include payments, money transfers and airtime top ups.
Trinity Technologies Limited says it will work closely with network partners and government to reach small and medium sized enterprises and underserved populations with products and services. Mr Arianaitwe added that it is company policy to work humanitarian organizations to reach women across South Sudan.
He said that the ease of access to financial services has the power to change lives. “For South Sudan’s most vulnerable, especially displaced persons and women, the benefits of mobile money are real and far reaching.”
Mr. Arinaitwe further explained that m-GURUSH will drive financial inclusion and economic empowerment and economic growth for millions of unbanked citizens across the width and breath South Sudan, enabling enterprise development, new employment opportunities and uplifting the living standards amongst the youth and the entire rural and urban population of the country.
Mr. Arinaitwe said besides the money transfer business, new features on m-GURUSH money will enable the company to fully tap into the mobile commerce business in South Sudan.
Any business that is a legally registered entity in South Sudan can apply to become an m-GURUSH Mobile Money Agent. The service offers affordable rates to its registered customers who can send any amounts between 1 Pound and 100 Pounds for FREE. Customers can self-register for m-GURUSH by dialing *355# on their Zain mobile phones.
The cost of sending between 501 pounds to 1,000 pounds is 15 South Sudanese Pounds. Customers can send and receive up to South Sudanese £100,000 per day and hold a balance of £200,000 in their mobile wallets. Customers can also pay for goods and services using m-GURUSH PAY at registered merchant outlets countrywide.
Service to be used by government to make payments
The service will also be used for the government in making payment and reduce the use of cash and eliminate paper – based payment.
m-GURUSH will work in partnership with Zain telecom as the mobile operator in the country. Zain telecom representative, Wilson Lado, explained the benefits citizens stands to reap from the partnership.
“We believe that we bring people together, connecting services and as such mobile money is one of the services and we as Zain want to assure that each and every person in the rural area is able to send and receive money.”
Richard Raja, Trinity Technologies Limited Director, says that as the service is rolled out, the opportunity exists to create between 20 000 and 30 000 new jobs. More importantly, he said, m-GURUSH will stimulate innovation across South Sudan.
“Our mission is to transform South Sudan through technology. We expect to create thousands of jobs for the citizens of the country,” said Raja.
m-GURUSH will make it unnecessary to carry cash but the people of South Sudan can rest easy. Equity Bank of Kenya, a private bank with branches in South Sudan, will be the systems bank. “All the money deposited in m-GURUSH is held in trust for the benefit of the customers and agents of m-GURUSH. As people transfer money from one wallet to another, the money will still be sitting in the bank account until it is withdrawn from an agent. That is the only time the money will get out of the account,” said Victor Omondi, Equity bank representative.
Despite the safety of using a recognised bank, Dr. David Nalo, Chair of the Finance and Economic committee in the national parliament, asked the m-GURUSH management to be steadfast in guarding against the system being used to launder money.
“I hope you will stop all those who want to launder money through m-GURUSH because for us as a government, we would not want people who are laundering money in the region to tamper with our m-GURUSH.” He added that m-GURUSH offered the country the opportunity to diversify its economy beyond oil production.
South Sudan gets almost all of its revenue from oil and has been boosting production to fund the rebuilding of its economy. The ceasefire negotiated between president Kiir and opposition groups presents an opportunity to companies like m-GURUSH to build a sustainable economy and improve the lives of the people of South Sudan.
Minister Makuei added that South Sudan’s free market economy meant it was important that m-GURUSH offer a reliable service that meets the needs of the people of South Sudan. Being first gave them the upper hand the minister pointed out, but, “It is all up to m-GURUSH to exert more effort and capture the market before other players join. There is no room for monopoly and anybody who fails checks out.”
By Deng Machol