JOHANNESBURG, April 7 /PRNewswire/ --

- Services will link poor people in small towns and rural areas to banking for the first time

CGAP, a microfinance group based at the World Bank, is supporting WIZZIT Bank to deliver banking services to poor people in South Africa's small towns and rural areas. WIZZIT is a division of the South African Bank of Athens Limited.

WIZZIT is in a good position to engage with South Africa's rural communities on a face-to-face basis because WIZZIT does not rely on branches to open accounts and facilitate transactions, says Brian Richardson, co-founder of WIZZIT Bank.

Globally, there are only a few examples of successful banking services that reach poor people in remote areas. With this project, CGAP is looking to WIZZIT to demonstrate how the reach of such services can be expanded with mobile technology and local agents who handle cash.

Imagine a poor person in a rural town who doesn't have access to financial services so her only option is to stuff cash under the mattress. Access to a bank account empowers poor people, giving them the security of not having to carry cash and the ability to store money safely for future use, says Elizabeth Littlefield, CEO of CGAP.

The project's three key components use point-of-sale devices in combination with WIZZIT's mobile phone banking platform:

- A mobile banking payment service for the major wholesalers serving more than 500 microentrepreneurs (spaza shops) in the township of Motherwell, where three in five people are unbanked. - A pilot program for easy account opening and preferred pricing at Dunns outlets -- a leading South African clothing retailer. If successful, this pilot program will expand to 289 stores throughout the country. To encourage sign-ups and use, customers will be given incentives to make purchases with their Maestro debit card rather than cash. - Easy account opening using a direct sales model and the South African Post Office for distribution.

CGAP's Technology Program aims to improve the lives of millions of poor people. We do this by helping financial institutions and others to expand access to financial services through the innovative application of technology. The program is co-funded by the Bill Melinda Gates Foundation. To read the program's mobile banking blog, visit

About CGAP

CGAP is an independent policy and research center dedicated to advancing financial access for the world's poor. It is supported by over 30 development agencies and private foundations who share a common mission to alleviate poverty. Housed at the World Bank, CGAP provides market intelligence, promotes standards, develops innovative solutions and offers advisory services to governments, microfinance providers, donors, and investors. More at


Formed in 2005, WIZZIT is a division of the South African Bank of Athens Limited that offers a full-service cellphone based banking facility unrestricted by various networks, type of SIM card or age of cellphone. Its target market is the estimated 16 million unbanked or underbanked South Africans, which makes up about 60 percent of the country's population. More at

Jim Rosenberg of CGAP, +1-202-494-4422,, or Brian Richardson of WIZZIT, +27-11-523-5600, +27-83-675-017,