Timor Telecom (TT) has teamed up with local bank Banco Nacional Ultramarino (BNU) to offer a mobile money product known as BNU Mobile, giving East Timorese greater access to financial services. A pilot test of BNU Mobile has been launched in Dili, Baucau, Ermera and Lautem, enabling users to make payments, transfer money, top up accounts, withdraw cash and buy goods through a ‘mobile wallet’ linked to their bank accounts. Customers without a bank account can use BNU Mobile to receive money from a BNU customer and cash out at a designated mobile money agent, or make a person-to-person funds transfer. Up to USD300 can be used in a single transaction per day, with a daily accumulated transfer limit of USD400, while the maximum balance that can be held on a mobile wallet is USD1,000. Once customers sign up for the service, they will receive USD3 of airtime and afterwards, for each top up bought through BNU Mobile, customers will get 100% bonus on airtime from TT.
BNU Mobile was launched with support from MicroSave and Inclusive Finance for the Under-Served Economy (INFUSE), a programme launched in 2008 by the government of Timor-Leste, the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with funding support from the Australian government. ‘We are very excited to partner with BNU for this pilot,’ commented TT CEO Manuel Capitao Amaro, adding: ‘Most of the population would never have access to a bank account or financial services, but with BNU Mobile, they will be able to buy, pay and transfer money in a convenient and low cost way. The service represents a major step forward in the development of the financial sector because Timorese people will be able to overcome the logistical challenges faced with traditional banking.’