[Africa Tech Review] Duncan Mochama: Digital Payments are key to financial inclusion in Africa
Digital payments have become a very crucial service in Africa. Every day, millions of transactions are transacted across the continent leading to the rise of different payment technologies like Mpesa.
In fact, in the financial year 2018/2019, M-Pesa was the leading digital payment platform in Africa. This is according to data from Statista. In the same year, M-Pesa counted 11 billion transactions, which was more than card payments with African cards and PayPal transactions.
These payments technologies have also presented an opportunity for other companies like Visa to tap into this market. This week, for example, the company announced plans to affirmed its commitment to expanding digital payments in Ethiopia at its inaugural Ethiopian Visa Payments Forum. It recently also announced AI-powered services that address long-standing challenges and pain points for banks, merchants and consumers,
Still, on payments, Nium, an advanced global payments platform, announced that its clients will now be able to send funds to their business partners located in Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania, with more countries in the pipeline.
In South Africa, Citi announced the launch of a new service for its institutional clients that speeds up the processing of their cross-border payments through the digitization of supporting documents.HUAWEI Mobile Services (HMS) partnered with MTN to launch a new payment method. Known as Direct Carrier Billing (DCB), the service will allow users to make purchases in HMS, including HUAWEI AppGallery, HUAWEI Video, HUAWEI Music, HUAWEI Themes, and HUAWEI Mobile Cloud, using your MTN airtime.
There was also a lot of news from African startups this week. Orange opened submissions for the 11th Orange Social Venture Prize in Africa and the Middle East targeting tech startups. The fifth edition of Digital Lab Africa (DLA), the first mentorship and incubation program for African creatives in innovative and digital content also launched its next call for applications. In Nigeria, Fintech startup Flutterwave secured $170 million from a leading group of international investors as part of a successful Series C round. Three startups from Kenya were also among the recipients of the inaugural $2-million Jua Fund, the largest African venture capital fund by a private individual. Ghanaian health tech startup mPharma signed a franchise agreement with Belayab Pharmaceuticals to open Haltons Pharmacies in Ethiopia. Lendable announced that it has invested over US$100 million in credit, to help fintech startups in emerging and frontier markets to scale.
This is also the week the world was celebrating international women’s day and there were a number of interesting announcements made to support women. Microsoft and non-profit social enterprise and Tech4Dev announced that they have partnered to train girls and women across 54 countries in Africa in coding and deep tech skills. Chinese tech giant Huawei also officially launched its HUAWEI Women Developers (HWD) program, which aims to empower women developers to create applications and tools that can change the world. In Ghana, Solidaridad partnered with Kering to empower women-led enterprises through a revolving fund. Women’s mentorship organisation Wentors, in collaboration with Microsoft, through its Microsoft 4Afrika initiative also announced plans to provide mentorship and training to 1,000 women working in the technology industry.
This week we also covered some news on cloud. SaaS governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) software leader Galvanize announced that it now provides regional hosting in Africa and South America via local AWS Regions. IFS launched IFS Cloud™, a single platform that innately connects all its products to deliver the end-to-end capabilities a company needs to orchestrate its customers, people and assets.
We also had an interview with Elizabeth Akinyi, the Customer Success Manager at Incentro Africa, an IT service provider delivering custom-built cloud-based software solutions for the European and African market. You can read it here.