Frankfurt - MTN Group [JSE:MTN]
has teamed up with Hollard Insurance and MFS Africa to launch a mobile money life insurance project in Ghana and plans a further roll-out of the programme later this year.
Starting on Wednesday, Ghanaians can buy "mi-life" life insurance for 1 to 5 cedis for two people - the holder and one next of kin - with a coverage of 500 to 2000 cedis ($765.5-$3 062), the companies said.
"Ghana is expected to have 13% GDP (gross domestic product) growth this year and we are seeing a lot of enthusiasm about financial services," said Bruno Alpaka, general manager for MTN mobile money in Ghana.
Customers can purchase the insurance through a mobile money agent or directly via their cellphones protected by a PIN code.
"We are encouraging customers to go through agents because they also have an educating role," Alpaka said.
While virtual transactions of cash via cellphones have mushroomed across the continent as millions of poor Africans do not have bank accounts, MTN said the mobile insurance project was a first.
"We should be able to extend this to every African country," said MFS Africa CEO Dare Okoudjou, adding that an indication of how customers were taking to the project would be seen in six to 12 months.
MTN is Africa's biggest wireless operator, active in 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East.
Alpaka said a broader roll-out in western African countries would be started first.
Zimbabwe's mobile operator Econet Wireless is trying a different approach with Trustco Group and insurance company First Mutual Life.
Called EcoLife, it gives Econet subscribers access to life insurance via prepackaged airtime on their cellphones while building customer loyalty.