Wizzit: banking for the unbanked

By Staff Writer


From Personal Finance
October 6 2007
By A'Eysha Kassiem

Cellphone-based bank Wizzit has joined forces with clothing franchise store Dunns to offer bank accounts to low-income earners.

Wizzit, a division of the South African Bank of Athens Limited, offers bank accounts to people who cannot open a conventional account because they cannot provide proof of an address.

It is a transactional bank account, but as Wizzit is targeting the unbanked, many clients use it as a savings account.

Many people, especially the unbanked, live with family or in informal housing and don't receive utility bills in their name. They cannot provide proof of an address as is required to open a conventional bank account.

Wizzit operates in terms of an exemption under the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (Fica), which does not require you to show proof of an address to open a bank account if you transact less than R5 000 a day or your balance does not exceed R25 000.

Wizzit says it operates in the same way as a conventional bank, allowing you to transfer money to other bank accounts, buy prepaid airtime and electricity, have debit orders loaded onto your account and to check your balance.

You need to purchase a starter pack at a Dunns store for R39.99 or, for the same cost, you can call Wizzit and it will send a "Wizzkid" (field agent) to help you to set up your account.
 

The starter pack includes a Wizzit Maestro debit card that you can use at any bank's ATM to withdraw money (at a cost of R4 a transaction and 99c for every R100 withdrawn) or to swipe for purchases (and withdraw money) at the cash till points of selected retail stores. A balance enquiry at an ATM will cost you R4.99.

You can make deposits at any branch of the Post Office. The money will be in your account within 24 hours.

Wizzit says there are no hidden costs, no monthly fees and no non-usage or excessive-usage penalties. There are no limits to the number of transactions you can carry out.

The cellphone networks will charge you 20 cents for 20 seconds of usage of Wizzit.

You will pay 99c for each balance enquiry you make through your cell phone. A Wizzit to Wizzit account cellphone transfer costs R2.99 (irrespective of the amount) and a Wizzit to non-Wizzit account transfer is R4.99 (irrespective of the amount).

Wizzit has set up a Cash Back facility with several retail stores, including Pick 'n Pay, Pep, Checkers and Shoprite. This allows you, through your Wizzit Maestro debit card, to pay for your purchases (at a cost of R1.99 a swipe) and to withdraw cash from the teller. You pay R1.99 (irrespective of the amount you withdraw).

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