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Peter Kuthan / AZFA
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« on: July 31 2012 »

by L.S.M Kabweza / TechZim, July 17th, 2012

In June, Altfin announced that their SMS and USSD mobile based medical aid service, MedAccess, would be made available on the other two major mobile network providers in Zimbabwe. The company has delivered on that promise. Starting a couple of days ago, Altfin has been advertising the availability of the service to Econet and Telecel subscribers.

MedAccess, the countryís first medical aid service that customers can register and pay monthly subscriptions to via their mobile phones, was so far available to NetOne subscribers only. With just over 1.6 million subscribers however, NetOne is currently the countryís smallest mobile network operator and the reach of the service was understandably limited. Econet and Telecel have 6.4 million and 2 million subscribers respectively. This development extends the reach of the service significantly.

Curiously, only NetOne subscribers can use MedAccess system via a mobile shortcode, 35050. Mobile phone subscribers on Econet and Telecel have to access the service via a normal NetOne number 0716 000 001. This means Altfin couldnít secure a shortcode at both Telecel and Econet. Of course this is no surprise, as currently, that process is known to be quite cumbersome for Value Added Service providers in Zimbabwe. Itís known to take several months from the time they apply for one to when they get it.

The MedAccess service is a micro-medical aid scheme targeted at uninsured individuals, mostly in the informal sector. For up to US $3 a month a subscribed household head can register their spouse and children on one mobile line. The transactions carried out on the system cost the subscriber an additional US 20 cents each, an amount which goes to the mobile operator. The service was launched in December 2011.
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