Monitise PLC announced it has been awarded $1.5 million by the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund to extend its mobile banking and payments service to East Africa.

Monitise, a British specialist in mobile banking technology, said its Monitise East Africa unit plans to offer services first in Uganda and then to expand into Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Zambia.

The service will enable services by banks and mobile networks alike, and it adheres to the regulatory framework of each market, Monitise said.

Hugh Scott, the director of the Challenge Fund, said in a Monitise press release Tuesday, "Through the extension of the reach of the banks and allowing people to save, make payments and transfer money to their families, we believe that Monitise East Africa has the potential to transform the economic outlook for literally millions of people."

Monitise offers mobile banking and payments in the United States through a joint venture, Monitise Americas LLC, with Metavante Technologies Inc. of Milwaukee.

In Kenya, Safaricom Ltd., a wireless network operator partially owned by the British operator Vodafone Group PLC, has offered a money transfer service since March 2007 that is used by more than 4 million of Safaricom's 10 million customers, Vodafone has said. Western Union Co. began testing a service in December to let Kenyan immigrants in the United Kingdom send funds directly to mobile phone users in Kenya.

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