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WIZZIT International
HeadquartersSandton, South Africa
Key people
Brian Richardson (Co-founder and Managing Director),
Charles Rowlinson (Co-founder and Chairman)
ServicesFinancial services
Private investors[2][3]
Number of employees
>2,000[1] (2008)

Wizzit International is a provider of basic banking services for the unbanked and underbanked (people or enterprises that have no or only limited access to banking services) in South Africa. Its services are based on the use of mobile phones for accessing bank accounts and conducting transactions, in addition to a Maestro debit card that is issued to all customers upon registration. Wizzit is a branchless banking business, meaning that its services are designed so that customers can generally conduct transactions without the need to visit bank branches.

While WIZZIT does not operate any branches on its own, it has partnered with the Absa Group and the South African Post Office that act as banking agents and allow WIZZIT's customers to deposit funds at any Absa or Post Office branch. Similarly, WIZZIT does not have an automated teller machine (ATM) network but its customers can pay for purchases and withdraw funds using their debit card at any point of sale (POS) or ATM accepting Maestro cards. Wizzit has also partnered with Dunns, a fashion retailer focusing on lower to middle-income customer segments[4] that acts as an agent for opening accounts

The company maintains a policy of only recruiting unemployed people,[5] which it has integrated into its promotion strategy: Because marketing costs represent one of the biggest financial challenges to its business,[1] Wizzit does not use mass media advertisements but relies instead on so-called WIZZkids—previously unemployed individuals that the company certifies to become sales agents.[6] Besides the commission on sales, WIZZkids receive annuity income based on the transaction level of account holders, which motivates them to train customers to use their accounts.[7] The WIZZkids are typically young, low-income individuals living in the communities from which they recruit their customers.[7]

Launched in 2004, WIZZIT is formally a division of the South African Bank of Athens but its brand is owned and its operations are run by a group of independent entrepreneurs.[8] WIZZIT had an estimated 250,000 customers in South Africa at the end of 2008 and has launched pilot projects in Zambia and Romania, where it intends to expand.[9] It had earlier reported that it expected to expand into other African countries as well and that it had been approached by potential partners from Kenya, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Malawi.[10][11]

WIZZIT aims at partnering with either existing banks or microfinance institutions (MFIs) in the countries it intends to expand to,[12] a strategy it has been testing with Beehive, a South African MFI.[13] Wizzit has also been planning to acquire merchants as agents in South Africa's rural areas, where the majority of its potential customers reside and where there is only an underdeveloped payments infrastructure available, such as ATMs and POS devices.[12] If successful, merchants will offer customers the ability to deposit money to and withdraw money from their Wizzit bank accounts, as well as to pay for purchases by using their mobile phones.


  1. ^ a b c Changemakers. (1 October 2008). Your Bank in Your Pocket — Making Economic Citizens of all. Retrieved 2 February 2009, from http://www.changemakers.net/en-us/node/12471
  2. ^ International Finance Corporation [IFC]. (No date). Wizzit: Summary of Proposed Investment. Retrieved 31 January 2009, from http://www.ifc.org/ifcext/spiwebsite1.nsf/2bc34f011b50ff6e85256a550073ff1c/38d0a05adb1f65f6852572ce006ea014?opendocument
  3. ^ Mohan, C. P. (2007). Products, Processes, and Institutions for Financial Inclusion: Experiences from Brazil & South Africa. In College of Agricultural Banking [CAB], Financial Inclusion: The Indian Experience (CAB Calling, Vol. 31, No. 3, pp. 103–109). Pune, Maharashtra, India: Reserve Bank of India. Retrieved 30 January 2009 from http://cab.org.in/pdf/July_Sept%202007/Products_process_and_Instituttions_for_Financial_Inclusion.pdf
  4. ^ Dunns. (No date). Our Mission & Values. Retrieved 18 February 2009, from http://www.dunns.co.za/mission.asp
  5. ^ Fisher-French, M. (16 September 2005). Wizz Kids and cellphone banking. Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 6 December 2007, from http://www.nextbillion.net/files/Wizzit%20Mail%20and%20Guardian.pdf
  6. ^ McLeod, D. (25 November 2005). Waving the Wand: Cellphone banking could transform financial services in SA and the rest of the developing world. Financial Mail, pp. 38–39. Retrieved 23 December 2007, from http://www.wizzit.co.za/media/wavinghand.pdf
  7. ^ a b Fisher-French, M. (24 September 2008). Wizzit strategy works. Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 30 January 2009, from http://www.mg.co.za/article/2008-09-24-wizzit-strategy-works
  8. ^ Porteous, D. (31 May 2006). The Enabling Environment for Mobile Banking in Africa. Retrieved 28 March 2008, from http://www.bankablefrontier.com/assets/ee.mobil.banking.report.v3.1.pdf
  9. ^ Lapper, R. (7 January 2009). A call to South Africa's masses. Financial Times (Europe), p. 10. Available from http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/27fc2ccc-dc13-11dd-b07e-000077b07658.html
  10. ^ Cell phones plug Africa's poor into mobile banking. (1 November 2005). Reuters. Retrieved 4 February 2009, from http://www.nextbillion.net/newsroom/2005/11/02/cell-phones-plug-africas-poor-into-mobile-banking
  11. ^ Kramer, W. J., & Paul, J. (2006). Mobile-enabled transactions for the base of the economic pyramid: A brief review of the 2006 'state-of-play.' In Vodafone, The Vodafone CR dialogues: Economic Empowerment through Mobile (pp. 11–15). Berkshire, England, United Kingdom: Vodafone Group. Retrieved 31 January 2009, from http://www.vodafone.com/etc/medialib/attachments/cr_downloads.Par.74986.File.tmp/VF_CR_Dialogue_3_Economic_Empowerment.pdf
  12. ^ a b Stockholm Challenge. (2008). WIZZIT Mobile Banking. Retrieved 30 January 2009, from http://event.stockholmchallenge.se/project/2008/Economic-Development/WIZZITMobile-Banking
  13. ^ United States Agency for International Development [USAID]. (January 2007). Client-Focused Technologies in Microfinance (microNOTE No. 31). Washington, D.C.: United States Agency for International Development. Retrieved 17 February 2009, from http://www.microlinks.org/file_download.php/mN+31Client-Focused_Technologies_Microfinance.pdf?URL_ID=12669&filename=11821971191mN_31Client-Focused_Technologies_Microfinance.pdf&filetype=application%2Fpdf&filesize=143766&name=mN+31Client-Focused_Technologies_Microfinance.pdf&location=user-S/