An African multinational mobile phone provider has launched a service that lets people in Ghana without bank accounts buy life insurance using their mobile phone.
The service doesn't simply involve setting up the deal, which can be done by a text-message menu system or by phoning a call center. Instead the premiums for the policy are charged to the mobile phone account itself.
MTN, which is operating the mi-Life service, says the policy is specifically aimed at people on very low incomes who rely on mobile phones as a lifeline for handling financial affairs. It noted that in Ghana just 34% of people have a bank account, and only 22% have some form of insurance.
The initial policies on offer are simply designed to cover funeral costs, traditionally an elaborate and expensive affair in Ghana's culture. There are plans for more specialised policies in future such as covering school fees.