NationHela is the newest baby from Nation Media group. And it’s not a new way of transmitting news to you, but a channel for remitting money from Kenyans in the diaspora to friends and family in the home country Kenya. As we all know, Nation media is in the business of entertaining, informing and now in money transfer thanks to NationHela. NationHela is a prepaid Visa card that functions like any other prepaid Visa card, you can pay bills on it, send money via the mobile phone USSD app, pay bills and also transfer funds to and from your Mpesa account.
How did it start?
Linus Gitahi, CEO of Nation Media told us at a press conference that of the over 30 million hits a month on the Nation website, 50% of these are readers from the diaspora. These same people read the nation online as the first thing they do when they go online. This is where Linus did some self praising, that 100% of the Kenyans in the diaspora read the Nation online, I leave you as the judge of that. Sadly enough they would then have to go offline to a physical location to transfer money to their loved ones, previously the available channels allowed for that much. They saw the opportunity to fill the gap, talked to Diamond Trust Bank for a partnership in developing a product to streamline this and viola! Several months later they were testing a product for the market. And today they did the official launch, with bloggers.
Who does what?
Nation is the product owner in the eyes of the public and will be the one to do the product pushing, marketing and user subscription, Diamond Trust Bank on the other hand, runs the systems, including system security, banking the money and also customer service. As you will come to realize, the mobile system is run on USSD and this is where Craft Silicon and Safaricom as the service provider comes in. 3G Pay is the silent player, who’s role is to make sure you can actually transfer funds from your paypal, something that has been missing from time immemorial. You can now indicate in your online properties that you accept paypal.
And the business
According to CBK, money remittances into Kenya currently stand at $596.2 million via the formal channels like Western Union and Moneygram who are regulated by the Central Bank. There still are other informal channels in use. In Linus words, there are 20 million Kenyans reached by Nation Media every day, making it half the Kenyan population. Nation Media seeks to capture a sizeable chunk of the current money remits to Kenya from outside and also get the card in the hands of the customers in their distribution. The primary business being remittance, secondary is making NationHela be the card of choice for payments by Kenyans. Linus adds that NationHela is the easiest money transfer service there is currently, hence increasing the chances of uptake from users who wish to do things more efficiently. All Nation staff have Hela cards, so they can actually get allowances and bonuses sent directly to your Hela card and Linus also suggested that this is a way that can be implemented by companies instead of the tedious process of writing cheques that will then be deposited and users have to wait for some days, the card seeks to reduce the time gap to minutes. And as a b the way, NationHela will also be launching in Uganda and Tanzania also in the near future. That is after a successful take-over in the Kenyan market.
Getting the NationHela card and started
Currently the NationHela card is available from Diamond Trust Bank branches countrywide, Uchumi and Nakumatt Supermarkets and the price is Kshs 500bob. The registration is done on USSD menu where you will dial *348# to access the menu. You will then be presented with the registration process as detailed in the menu that comes with the pack. The card wont bear anyone’s name, even if you are a twitter bigwig. This is just a move to make acquisition a fast process, you can use it within minutes of purchase, your card is registered with your phone number and you cannot switch. Sending money via the card on the online portal doesnt require you to have a NationHela card, just as long as the recipient has one, they can receive money, but the sender will have to register and specify how they want the money transferred, either Debit Card, Credit Card or PayPal, and this transaction will take place within minutes. Users can then either make payments the via VISA card or withdraw money the way of ATM on any VISA branded ATM.
Security and other details
If in the instance you lose your card, you can actually go to your phone account and switch off activities on your card, that is if you do not lose both at the same time, and you can stop transactions from happening on your card while you look for it or report to get a replacement incase you lose hope of finding it. If you find it you can resume normal activity on the card. Card switching incase of loss would mean purchasing another and getting your data transferred to the new card, by DTB guys. And remember NationHela does not mean you are a DTB customer, it’s just your money that is hosted in there, kind of like the cloud computing of money. Makes the card unique, huh? According to NationHela guys, this service is 30% cheaper and we got a sample of sending $200 would attract charges of $12 plus an advantage of better dollar conversion rates. Transferring money from Mpesa to the card is the same as on other bank account cards.
Anything I have left out? Let’s hit the comment box, shall we?