NationHela international money transfer product launched in Kenya


NationHela money transferNationHela 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

NationHela money transferCurrently 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?



  1. Another first for a media house! I like.This just shows NMG is not only in the business of selling news..Linus seems to be thinking broader to their product offering.I may be wrong or right I foresee NMG even going the e-commerce direction..One thing though techweez, The card seems to be targeted at people in the diaspora fighting western union and moneygram head on..How is it that it is becoming a pay solution even for locals in the sense that employers can pay via this card instead of cheques? Maybe I will need to look at it closely…

    • And your prediction is right, Linus actually said there will be more products coming the e-commerce way in the near future, and to respond to the point that the card is targeted to the diaspora money remittance, this is the primary function, to take a chunk of the remittance dollars, the fact that this is also a prepaid card is a plus, one can actually send money to another Hela card user, NMG wants to show that you can actually do that process and account for it the cheque way, just abit faster.
      And thanks for the part you play to make the activity what it is.

      • may be for a critic like you who is probably a sales representative of western union and afraid of competition

        • hehe, ur a paid troll. i switched to using dabhashil a few weeks back. i hate WU equally. man dont you see what they are doing, just a way for people to keep their cosy jobs.

  2. Haha… This is a raw product… Wont dent Mpesa or WesternUnion…as for the Paypal option…not possible in Kenya as far as Paypal is concerned.

  3. The rates for transferring cash have changed. Unlike in the past, for about $200 you get charged $10. But the catch is, they have started charging for amounts less than $50 which they were not doing in the past. But it still remains quite affordable especially considering you get the card for free.

  4. this product is a good idea but it does not work. and now pay pal also not working, so whats the big deal with this card. linus is a good guy but surrounded by idiots whom he has to rely on. the product is done by people who have to keep their cozy jobs and show that they are doing some cool things, matter of fact is those very people are taking millions in salaries and there is nothing coming out. this product will die a sad death, as for linus he will have to answer to the shareholders very soon. they are spending huge money on marketing ( using their own media which is an opportunity cost) . this is a dud, i tried it with great hopes but even the charges are high, the ussd does not work , i mean why does linus hire such dumbwits. again , linus is a good person and a business mind but his senior mgmgt staff are all useless, no good, arrogant dicks who think they know everything.

      • yes, i am sure bwana. have you seen their rates, a rip off, trasnfer takes 72 hrs, and customer service is sad. overall this is a disaster and heads muct role. linus are you listening

        • Aaroan,you are way too biased,watch it,it will work and all critics will be wondering how it did.find out in the last few days how many people have bought the card and you will have all your answers.

          • 10 people are getting the card per day, and that too because linus is begging his rich friends. most of the cards were given to their staff, so that is not selling!! so there you go. this is such a shit product. have you used it, i have and i can tell you i have chucked it away. more than the money its frustrating

  5. linus gitahi is getting fooled by a bunch of idiots that they can take on mpesa and western, money gram etc. bull shit boss. style up else these morons will ask u for fund another million dollar dud idea.

    • Aaroan,you are loosing it,every great product starts like this.I admire the fact that Linus thinks outside the box every time.This proves that NMG will stay afloat for years despite of all advancement in technology.Keep it Linus.

  6. I am looking forward to being part of this great revolution.Keep it up NMG.Soon its going to be a house hold name since its offering us so many solutions an unmeasurable value.

    • have you used the product yourself, to be making such claims. OR you are a paid blogger, paid by nation to write positive things. the fact is that nation itself is trying its best to sell this product inhouse. internally all senior mgmt staff know this is a useless liability that has been put forth on the business. this thing will leave a hole in the balance sheets and overall nmg’s share price will suffer

  7. what a crap product… is linus able to sleep with a hoax product like this,,,,stop fooling kenyans pls

  8. linus gitahi- you are responsible for conning kenyas, so is DTB lady. stop this nonsence, otherwise people will get in to your office and give you a beating

  9. 3g direct- a fraud company dealing with nation. how can linus allow this to happen, is he deaf and blind, who are the useless advisors he has hired….

  10. there are 1000 options for me to send money from denmark to my sister in kisumu. why would i use this expensive service. western union moves money to mpesa so what is the big deal. i ask a friend to buy this card and tried sending money, took 72 hours. no jokes. nice try

  11. this does not work. i was happy at start, but now this service is like kenya power- and we all know how awesome that is!!

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