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Safaricom, Kenya’s leading mobile operator, has launched a new health payment platform dubbed “M-Tiba” that will enable users to save and pay for healthcare using their phones.

The platform  is targeted at healthcare finance providers that would like to directly reach their intended beneficiaries through mobile payment platforms. It will allow users to deposit funds into a dedicated ‘health wallet’ on M-Pesa. These funds can only be used to pay for healthcare at selected providers who are part of a nationwide M-Tiba network.

M-Tiba was launched in partnership with PharmAccess Foundation, a Netherlands-based non-profit organization working to improve access to quality healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa, and CarePay, a Kenyan payment platform that enables users to save and pay for healthcare. The service has been on trial at 44 clinics that reach 10,000 beneficiaries. Safaricom now plans to rope in public and private health insurance providers that would like to deepen their reach.

“We are extending the capability of the mobile phone to make a tangible difference in the way healthcare is delivered in Kenya, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said at the launch. “M-Tiba will allow services to reach previously inaccessible areas to transform the way healthcare is delivered.”

The first donor partner to use the M-Tiba platform is The Pfizer Foundation, who are pioneering the the service in low income areas.

“More such solutions will be developed with public and private partners. In future, M-Tiba can include public and private health insurers as well, offering micro-insurance products through M-Tiba against very low costs to low-and middle-income groups that couldn’t be reached before,” said Millicent Olulo, Country Director for PharmAccess.

M-Tiba is Safaricom’s third dedicated mobile healthcare product. The other two are Linda Jamii, a micro-insurance product, and Sema Doc, a subscription service that offers consultation and health tips via SMS.
Safaricom is the biggest communication company in East and Central Africa, providing voice, data, financial services and enterprise solutions for a range of subscribers, small businesses and government using a variety of platforms.

For the last nine months, Safaricom has been working on the new mobile money service that seeks to ease access to healthcare.

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