According to the tariff page, to deposit, register, buy airtime, check balance and pay bills is free. To withdraw by an unregistered customer is free as well as the accounts subscription, and SMS traffic generated by transactions.
But after that, the charges start piling up:
Mini Statement = NGN10.
Registered customer's withdrawal of NGN3,000 and less will cost NGN50.
Registered customer's withdrawal of between NGN3,001 and NGN6,000 will cost NGN100.
Registered customer's withdrawal of between NGN6,001 and NGN9,000 will cost NGN150.
Registered customer's withdrawal of above NGN9,000 will cost NGN200.
To send to a Registered customer, it will cost you NGN50.
To send NGN3,000 or less to an unregistered customer will cost you NGN120.
To send between NGN3,001 and NGN6,000 to an unregistered customer will cost you NGN180.
To send between NGN6,001 and NGN9,000 to an unregistered customer will cost you NGN250.
To send above NGN9,000 to an unregistered customer will cost you NGN300.
So the charges are between NGN10 and NGN300.
They seem minimal but if you consider the fact that the Central Bank of Nigeria is steering the country towards a cashless economy, the charges will pile up gradually. As everyone will have to operate without cash, every transaction will cost some money.
But then I got an SMS on my MTN modem that Vicky had credited the account with NGN8,000 credit. I even got a bonus of NGN400 for the transaction, done via MTN's Virtual Top Up service. And I checked out my etisalat credit balance and realized that he had topped that one up as well.
And I struck upon an idea.
Mobile Money vs Credit Share
Instead of using Mobile Money, why not try using credit as the legal tender?
If I sell groundnut, instead of having to collect cash from you the buyer, you could just transfer the credit to me. Its instantaneous! I get the alert, you get the groundnut immediately!
Same goes for the vegetable seller, and the mallam that sells custom-made indomie down the street.
And yes! Don't forget the suya seller! Its instant.
The credit goes round and round so there is no cause for worries. Of course to get your cash back, you might need to sell the credit to anyone who will buy. This means everyone will be selling credit - kills the retailer business a bit but, it pays in the end, as it is all free and the networks eventually wont need to print recharge cards anymore! Besides, there may be no need to cash out at all. Let me paint a scenario for you:
Akin wakes up in the morning, and strolls to his wardrobe to brush his teeth. He finds his toothpaste tube empty, and grabs his phone as he hurries to Oga Audu, the Mallam at the kiosk three houses away.
"Sanu Oga Audu" he greets the mallam.
"Sanu Oga Akin," Audu responds. "How I fit helep you this morning?"
"I need toothpaste oga" Akin responds. "How much is this one?"
"120 naira oga," Audu replies as he pulls out his phone.
"Ok, abeg give me your number again make I transfer," Akin says as he opens his MTN Services application on his phone.
Seconds later Audu's phone beeps, indicating that he has received an sms. He smiles and hands over the toothpaste to Akin, who thanks him and hurries back home to get ready for work.
Thirty minutes later, Sherifat, Akin's sister is blocking the door, barring Akin from leaving the flat.
"Bro Akin you promised to give me some credit for my handouts today," She mutters. "Please now"
"Sheri, I don't have time for this o!" Akin bellows. "You want me to be late for work ni?"
"No now," Sheri pleads. "Please, oya just promise you will transfer 400 naira to me before noon."
"Will that be okay for your handout?" akin asks.
"It is half," Sheri replies. "Mummy has already transferred the other half last night."
"Smart girl," Akin says as he opens the door. "I promise you will get it before noon okay? Bye bye."
He closes the door on Sheri's doubtful face.
"Papa! I don dey go school o!" Young Ahmed shouts as he straightens his worn out socks.
"Bye bye" Oga Audu, his father shouts back to him from his kiosk.
"Papa! No credit for break time today?" Ahmed asks.
"No credit!" his father replies, and watches his face crumble before adding. "I don transfer 50 naira to the akara seller in your school for you."
Ahmed's face lit up at the news. Oga Audu shook his head. sometimes he felt his son went to school only for the food.
"Na go de Papa!" the boy says, before turning around and running to the junction.
Akin peeps out of the window of the bus, and glares at the traffic a third time. It was as if Time was determined to make sure he was late today. He gets down from the bus and stands at the side of the street, looking up and down for an okada [commercial motorcycle]. Finally he spots one, signals it to come closer, and within ten minutes, he arrives in front of his office.
Just in time too, with five minutes to spare.
"Oga," Akin addresses the okada rider. "Abeg quick give me your number make I transfer. How much u go charge me sef?"
"50 naira oga." the rider responds. "my number na..." he reels of his number from memory.
Ten seconds later
"Oga thank you. Have a good day" he says as he starts his okada and Akin walks into his office compound smiling as he remembers the days when they would both have to start looking for change and the purpose of taking the bike would be defeated as he would invariably be late.
The okada rider parks his bike in front of the bukateria. He is famished and had been heading there before Akin called him.
"Mama Kike good morning o!" he calls out as he takes a seat where he can keep his eye on his okada.
"Good morning Oga Silvanus!" Mama Kike, the food seller responds. "How your night? Wetin you wan chop today?"
"We thank God o. Bring rice and beans, and dodo and four meat." Silvanus responds.
"Wetin you wan drink?" Mama Kike asks as she sets the food in front of him.
"Bring coke madam," he grunts as he digs into the food.
Twenty minutes later she goes to him as he pushes his empty plate and coke bottle forward and begins picking his teeth.
"Mama Kike how much be my money o," he says around the toothpick in his mouth.
"Meat na 200, rice na 100, beans na 50 naira, and the coke na 20 naira." she responds. "Total na 370 naira oga."
As she greets a newcomer, Silvanus sends the credit to her phone.
"My phone number na..." she says to him, as her phone begins to beep.
"I don save you number Madam," Silvanus cuts her short as he rises from his seat. "I don send the credit sef. Na the SMS e go be wey enter your phone just now."
"Yes o!" she responds, "Na im! Oga thank you! Make I dey expect you for evening abi?"
"Yes," Silvanus. "Na akpu I wan chop by then o. No tell me say una no get dis time! Bye bye"
SIX HOURS LATER
"Kike! Kike!" Mama Kike shouts from her cooking spot. Her daughter Kike had just arrived from school and she needed her to buy some things.
"Yes ma!" Kike shouts back as she appears by her mother's side.
"I need fufu o," Mama Kike says in a lower voice. "And Ugu vegetables. Please go into the market close by to buy both."
"Ok ma," Kike responds, swooping down to grab her mother's phone on the stool. "How much?"
"Buy 500 naira fufu and 400 ugu." Mama Kike replies as she continues stirring the soup on the fireplace.
"Ok mummy," Kike responds.
"Don't take long o!" Mama Kike shouts after her.
"Mama Sola, you no go close?" Mama Aliu shouts to her neighbor as she carries her garri basin into her tiny shop.
"I don dey close o," Mama Sola replies. "Nah Kike come buy fufu and we never finish to dey count am."
"Abeg do quick and close," Mama Aliu shouts back as she carries her Beans basin in as well. "Nah we remain for market. Everybody don close finish."
"Mama wait!" Sheri shouts as she runs towards Mama Aliu's shop front. "I wan buy garri ma!"
"Why you just dey enter market now?" Mama Aliu grumbles. "I don close o."
"Mama no vex na," Sheri pleads as she rummages in her bag for her phone. "Nah just 600 naira garri I wan buy abeg."
"I don carry am enter o," Mama Aliu insists.
"Abeg ma," Sheri kneels down on the hard ground. "My brother will kill me if I don't buy it today. Please ma"
"Mama Aliu sell am for am now," Mama Sola says as she waits for Kike's transfer delivery to get to her phone, while packing up. "See as how she kneel down so. To find young girl wey go do like that e rare o. She be good gal."
"Ok you get lucky today o!" Mama Aliu says as she turns around and gets her measuring bowls. "Oya start the transfer now now as I dey measure! My number na 08031234567"
Minutes later, they had closed up shop and are on their way home. Sheri is already on an okada to take her home.
"Hmm," Akin grunted as he rubs his tummy in satisfaction. "That was some meal."
Sheri smiles at him in pleasure.
"Your husband will enjoy you well well," Akin adds as he stretches out his feet in front of him.
"Thanks for the compliments," Sheri says as she clears the dishes from the tiny dining table in the one bedroom apartment. "And thanks for transferring the credit in time this afternoon."
"Really?" Akin asks, around the toothpick in his mouth, his eyes still closed. "It was in time?"
"Yes it was," Sheri replies from the tiny kitchen. "I was able to transfer the credit to the Captain and get my copy before the lecturer entered the class. I made your favorite eba and egusi just to say thank you, you know."
"Ah!" Akin exclaims. "If that is what it will take to get my favorite meal, I will start transferring credit to your phone everyday o!"
Sheri and Akin burst out laughing.
Everybody gets paid, without charges as it is free via credit transfer. MTN VTU is ideal for this as almost everybody has[ or has had] an MTN line, but other networks also do credit transfer for free.
What do you think?