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Africa and Its Undiscovered Mobile Opportunity

Mobile Commerce Insider Featured Article

April 14, 2015

Africa and Its Undiscovered Mobile Opportunity

By Maurice Nagle
TMCnet Web Editor

Mobile commerce in general is enjoying healthy growth in the United States, but it is not just here that mobile payments and money services are flourishing. Africa is actually home to over half of the world’s live money services, and providing a breeding ground for those seeking to compete in the space with mobile money platform offerings of their own.

Let’s face it, if given the choice to do one’s banking on their smartphone or go to the bank the choice is easy. And with the convenience of mobile banking offerings, the people in Kenya are transferring up to $36 billion annually and its adjacent neighbor Tanzania sees over $10 billion annually in money transfers, according to Vodacom (News - Alert) research.

Reports indicate that “cash” is still the primary method of payment, but mobile offerings are most certainly gaining in popularity. One of the largest hurdles are the employed people without bank accounts—no bank account means no mobile banking. Vodacom reports that in South Africa alone this makes up seven million people and that number gets exponentially higher in other African nations.

But, we are seeing growth in crypto currency acceptance, as Johannesburg played host to the nation’s first Bitcoin ATM in August, and Nigeria launched its own Bitcoin exchange in January.

While the opportunity for explosive growth exists, there are some integral pieces to ensure this growth takes place. If secure offerings are available, they will go to use. Being able to provide a secured means should be top priority and is a good way to separate from the pack. With mobile use as high as it is in Africa, it should come as no surprise that Africans have spurned demand for mPOS solutions as opposed to traditional POS systems. Thirdly, standards are vital for integration, as most retailers provide organization-wide integration and prefer to offer traditional methods of payment. A move toward integration allows for transactions to take place easily, hassle-free and securely.

The trend in Africa is most definitely mobile, and as we are seeing retailers in the United States adjust game plans to take today’s always-on, always plugged in mobile lifestyle into account to provide customer service and engagement on the customer’s preferred channel, African demand is pushing for a similar result. 

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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