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Craft Silicon launches Elma as it eyes mobile banking market

By | December 7th 2010

By Macharia Kamau

Local software solutions provider, Craft Silicon, has launched a new banking solution dubbed Elma, which enables users to undertake banking and non-banking transactions using cell phones, and is expected to increase level of mobile banking in the country.

For a flat charge of Sh80 per month, Elma will allow users to undertake bank-to-bank transfers, pay utility bills, manage stock market transactions and get commodity prices. It will also enable one to read books online, and download materials like music and movies.

Kamal Budhabhatti, the chief executive of Craft Silicon, said Elma was unlike the mobile money transfer services currently in the market, since it was not tied to a particular network, and gave one an increased level of interactivity with their bank accounts.

"Elma can be operated on any network, and applied by any commercial bank, or other financial services institution," he said.

The banks, however, need to sign up with the firm for customers to access the solution. It is currently in use on a trial basis by four commercial banks.

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"Other than enabling one do their transactions using their cell phone, one will also get content from various service providers like news updates."

The estimated 50 per cent mobile telephony penetration and increased usage of data enabled phones has provided opportunities for application developers, which Craft Silicon intends to tap.

The company is also targeting the export market with the new product. It already exports its financial services software to West Africa, where Budhabhatti said his firm’s products are more popular than they are in Kenya. It also sells software in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe.

"Only nine out of the over 40 banks use our products including core banking software, which I guess is a case of the industry not believing that locally produced software can be as good and reliable if not competitive as those coded in Asia or the west," he said.

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