30-Jul-2009 20:16:38
by Tom Godber

Masabi and Mi-Pay Make Mass Adoption of Mobile Financial Services Viable for Africa & Middle East

LONDON, UK- July 30th 2009 - Masabi, the developer of secure applications for mass market mobile phones, has successfully collaborated with leading mobile payments provider, Mi-Pay, to develop Street Vendor; an innovative mobile transaction system that allows mobile operators, banks and other retailers providers to offer their services in remote regions without additional investment in infrastructure or hardware, using the existing installed mobile phone base.

Already in use by Saraf Mobile, one of the world’s first mobile person-to-person, agent-based money transfer services, Street Vendor is now live in Sudan with other roll-outs planned across the Middle East and North Africa.

Unlike Mobile Operator led mobile payment services, which require new SIM cards to be issued and integration with local network infrastructure, the Street-Vendor system can be rolled out internationally to any territory that has SMS reception. This reduces the time-to-market and economics of delivering micro and macro financial services to cities and rural areas. It can also be rapidly launched in response to natural disasters or business needs in any area that local agents, SMS and Banking regulations allow.

The Street Vendor mobile application enables a distributed workforce to take cash payments in return for mobile top-ups or money transfer services using standard mobile handsets. The mobile handset acts as an Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) terminal and communicates with a central server to authenticate and approve the transaction over encrypted SMS in areas where other data connections are unavailable.

The application is compatible with many standard handsets, up to 7 years old, and doesn’t rely on Smartphones or 3G and GPRS connectivity which are not always available in rural areas. It uses Masabi’s award winning EncryptME system to ensure transactions are completely secure all the way from the phone to the bank, regardless of the mobile network used. It also and complies with all international money transfer regulations.

“Most developing nations have vast regions with limited communications infrastructure and accessibility. In these regions, where credit cards are not yet common, this system will allow mobile operators and retail providers to create innovative new sales channels for in-demand services. A ‘Street Vendor’ with even old handsets can now offer international transaction and retail services to local consumers, without the need for vast technological infrastructure,” said Ben Whitaker, COO of Masabi. “We are excited to be working with Mi-Pay, leveraging their experience in providing fully regulated banking and remittance services to offer transactional services that can dramatically affect regional economies in the developing world.”

“This solution effective eliminates many of the traditional cost and logistical barriers to mass roll-out of mobile financial services,” comments Norman Frankel, CEO of Mi-Pay. “In developing countries, such as those in Africa, where there is insufficient payments revenue to justify the capital expense of rolling bank branches out across large geographical areas, mobile initiated domestic financial services have the potential to transform the retail sector and, therefore, the economy as a whole. The ‘Street Vendor’ system could dramatically affect developing markets by enabling retail providers to create distributed sales forces in previously untouchable regions. Masabi’s skills in delivering highly secure, graphically rich applications on low-cost everyday mobile handsets made them an obvious partner.”

Meeting all Know-Your-Customer (KYC) regulations, Street Vendor complies with international anti-fraud and money laundering guidelines. Future versions of the system will support utility payments, direct debit setup and micro loans as well as allowing end-users to install the service on their own handset and authorise payments through participating banks.


A video interview with about Street Vendor with Masabi COO, Ben Whitaker, along with screen-shots of the application can be found here:

About Masabi

Masabi is a secure mobile applications developer based in the UK. The company builds secure, usable mobile applications for mass market mobile phones that address the m-commerce, financial services, transport and event ticketing markets. Masabi’s train ticketing application is currently being used by UK rail operators including Heathrow Express and National Express East Coast and in December 2008 the company’s design for mobile barcodes was adopted as a national standard by all UK rail operating companies (ATOC). Masabi’s EncryptME award-winning security system has been validated by BT and certified by NIST, the US Government’s security standards body. In line with the latest web security standards EncryptME provides end-to-end security for all mobile communications by SMS, GPRS, NFC and local data storage on all Java-enabled handsets. The company’s security has won an IET Security Award and was selected as a finalist for the Red Herring 100 Europe in 2009. For further details see www.masabi.com.

About Mi-Pay

Mi-Pay the leading mobile money company, provides an innovative range of products and services that enable consumers around the world to undertake safe and secure financial transactions from their mobile phones. Based in the UK, Mi-Pay also has offices in Dubai, Romania, India and Pakistan, bringing a global perspective to the provision of secure transactions from the consumer’s handset through to settlement. Mi-Pay has vast expertise and service offerings that span pre-pay topups, mobile initiated payments, mobile banking, mobile money transfer, handset based authentication and consultancy. For more information visit: www.mi-pay.com.

Media Contacts for Masabi


+44 (0)20 7981 9783

Media Contacts for Mi-Pay

Ioana Dudas, Communication Manager Mi-Pay


+40 369 435 270

Written by Tom Godber