FNB LAUNCHED a cellphone-based instant money transfer service from South Africa to Zimbabwe yesterday.

“We have done extensive research into the cross-border remittance market and devised a service that is readily accessible to the people who need it most,” Yolande van Wyk, the head of digital and alternative banking for FNB Africa, said.

“People don’t always have the time to travel to the bank during working hours, and often need to send money home instantly and easily,” she said.

Van Wyk said the service had a tiered pricing structure, with a minimum 4.5 percent fee. Sending between R100 and R1 000 would cost R45. From R1 001 to R1 500 the fee was R70, with a maximum of R3 000 a day.

Recipients could collect their money at OK retail stores in Harare and Bulawayo, with more outlets to follow.

FNB said that according to the World Bank, 20 percent of money sent to Zimbabwe from South Africa was spent on the cost of getting it there. The bank also found that an estimated 1.9 million Zimbabweans living and working in South Africa sent an average R6.7 billion a year to Zimbabwe.

According to a World Bank chart of remittance percentages, FNB, Nedbank and Standard Bank charged more than 18 percent to send money to Zimbabwe, while Absa charged 15 percent for online services. Bank of Athens charged 39 percent and Bidvest 32 percent. Western Union charged 8.7 percent for cash transfers.

FNB said there were no currency conversion rates for the sender and zero transaction fees for recipients, who did not have to be pre-registered.

Van Wyk said the sender had to be an FNB accountholder who had complied with all the Financial Intelligence Centre Act requirements and must be a permanent resident of South Africa.