Africa is the largest unserved market that has dropped out of sight of the global financial system. Some estimations suggest that there are ~330 million adult Africans, who lack access to formal financial services, which signifies tremendous opportunities for financial technology companies that are ready to embrace them.
There are segments in the financial services industry that are particularly advanced in terms of adoption scale and of attractiveness to entrants. Remittance via mobile has picked up a rapid pace in Africa, with Kenyans using mobile money services for over eight years already; M-Pesa being Kenya’s dominant mobile money provider, the segment allows people to make P2P payments by simply texting.
Africa as a market has all the prerequisites promising to serve as a firm foundation for growth and development. Among the key data points characterizing Africa’s state of financial system, the SWIFT Institute has recently mentioned the following ones:
- In 47 out of the 89 markets where mobile money is available, both banks and nonbanks are allowed to provide mobile money services.
- Half of almost 300 million registered mobile money accounts globally are located in sub-Saharan Africa.
- In addition, there are 2.26 million mobile money agents in developing countries around the world, many more than the number of alternative financial access points comprising ATMs (1.38 million), commercial bank branches (524,000), post offices (501,000) and Western Union locations (500,000).
In the face of an outstanding opportunity presented in Africa, an ecosystem of FinTech startups providing payments/money transfer solutions have grown to transform a cash-heavy payments industry on the continent.
MFS Africa is a gateway to send money to mobile wallets in Africa. The company covers 80 million mobile money recipients across all major networks.
Bitsoko is an Android mobile wallet that implements blockchain technology.
IMB offers a wallet with remittance capabilities, enabling users to buy airtime, pay for electricity, Metrorail tickets and other mobile services.
Mukuru helps users to move money around Africa whether they are sending cash for instant collection or topping up a bank account or mobile wallet.
PayDunya is an online payments solution that allows African e-businesses to accept payments from mobile money wallet and credit/debit cards.
InterSwitch is an integrated payment and transaction processing company that provides technology integration and advisory services.
Kobocoin is a digital currency and payment system similar to bitcoin, with an African heritage. Kobocoin is a blockchain-based P2P payment system in Africa.
M-PESA, a subsidiary of Vodafone, is one of the earliest mobile-phone based money transfer and microfinancing services in the world.
Nomanini is an enterprise payments platform provider that enables transactions in the cash-based informal retail sector.
Verifone Mobile Money is a joint venture between Verifone Inc. and youtap! to provide complete mobile money solutions designed to meet the needs of mobile operators for telco-based money transfer and payment services in emerging markets.
Paga was founded in early 2009 with a mission to transform lives by delivering innovative and universal access to financial services across Africa. Paga is a direct-to-consumer mobile payments service licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
SnapScan is a service that allows people to make payments with their mobile phones by simply taking a photo of a QR code and punching in the amount they want to pay.
Wizzit is an affordable, easy and convenient transactional account with state of the art, secure cellphone banking technology.
VoguePay provides a payment solution that allows users to make and accept payments online from other VoguePay members or eTranzact and Visa card holders.
Yoco provides merchants with a mobile point-of-sale application and card acceptance solution. The Yoco solution includes the mobile app and either a plug-in card reader or a wireless card reader.
Peach Payments provides payment solutions to online and mobile businesses, enabling them to accept payments from consumers across the globe and especially from those in the emerging markets.
Cellulant is a digital payments service provider that prompts, collects, settles and reconciles payments in real time is using mobile wallets to empower farmers across Africa as well as powering transactions for millions of merchants and utility facilities across Africa. It provides a mobile payment ecosystem connecting consumers, merchants, banks, etc.
SimplePay allows accepting payments online with its modern and well-documented APIs. SimplePay is PCI-Compliant Level 1.
Maxicash offers a fast, easy and affordable way to send money to Africa. The company has developed an app for African expats to send money to their families in Africa without using any traditional ‘agencies’ or ‘bank.’
WeCashUp offers a way of accepting cash and mobile payments in Africa and provides all the relevant local cash and mobile payment methods in all the countries in Africa in a single platform. The company claims to offer the best conversion rates and a state-of-the-art technology necessary for being successful in e-commerce in Africa.
Remit is a mobile payments service that allows people to make real-time money transfers from debit or credit card to mobile-money from all over the world to registered mobile money users in Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda.
ConnectAfrica is a B2B technology solution connecting various payment networks together. Members of the hub are able to facilitate cross-network transfers. Targeted members are e-wallet providers, banks, payments service providers and many more.
The 3G Direct Pay Group is an online solution for e-commerce, providing merchant services to thousands of travel-related and other businesses, focusing on Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Zanzibar, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia & Ethiopia, accepting all major credit cards, mobile money and e-wallets.
i-Pay EFT Payment allows to make instant, secure, electronic payments straight into any South African bank account.
Softeller is an online service that uses the advantage of low local money transfer rates in Cameroon to allow people living abroad send money back home.
M-Naira allows sending money from wherever anywhere in the world to any Nigeria bank accounts or any mobile money wallets instantly.
Funds & Electronic Transfer Solutions (fets) is a Central Bank of Nigeria-licensed (CBN) mobile money operator. fets’ mobile money enables the transfer of money from one point to another (person, business, government) using the electronic value of money on basic mobile phones.
KongaPay is a safe and secure payment method and can be regarded as the preferred online payment platforms in Nigeria which is created in partnership with leading banks in Nigeria to ensure trust and safety for both buyers and sellers.
Zeepay is a Ghanaian mobile financial services company focusing on providing integrated mobile payments services with mobile wallets targeting the unbanked and banked population with the objective of bringing the unbanked into the financial stream and easing payments and collections for the banked population.
PayUp provides merchants with a mobile point-of-sale application and card acceptance solution. PayUp offers a free mobile app and either a wireless card reader.
Veneka provides tailored payment technology solutions with a focus on the African continent. The company’s products and services enable card, mobile and e-banking business solutions.
PayFast is a payments processing service for South Africans and South African websites. The solution enables easy, secure and instant transfer of money from online buyers to sellers. PayFast allows sellers – individuals, businesses and charities – to accept secure payments from online buyers in a variety of ways. The company processes credit cards from anywhere in the world, instant EFT (bank transfers with SA’s four biggest banks that get instantly verified), bitcoin and more.
Zoona is a mobile technology company developing products such as money transfers, electronic voucher payments and agent payments.
VugaPay is a fast and safe way to send and receive mobile money payments online without sharing personal financial information. With VugaPay, users can send or receive mobile money, shop online with mobile money, pay online with VugaPay balance, mobile money, bank account, or credit card & more.
Wallettec is a SaaS platform that enables retailers to accept any type of mobile transaction or currency type at their POS. The company offers a mobile payments capability without the requirement of owning any credit or debit card.
AMoney is a full end FinTech solution for cross-border payments, unification of mobile wallets and financial inclusion.
Paystack helps Nigerian businesses accept payments online with Mastercard, Visa and Verve cards from anyone, anywhere in the world.
WeChat Wallet allows managing payments with mobiles. It allows users to add debit or credit cards, get money sent from a friend and pay for goods and services at SnapScan merchants across South Africa. Users can also buy airtime, electricity and any of the services in WeChat’s ecosystem.
VCpay is a mobile application by ZAZOO, a business unit of Net 1 UEPS Technologies, that uses ZAZOO's patented Mobile Virtual Card (MVC) technology, enabling mobile devices to generate virtual Mastercard payment cards. Users can activate VCpay by following a simple registration process and linking the application to any number of funding options, such as credit cards, EFTs, direct top-ups, cash and more.
DusuPay is one of Africa’s largest payments gateways. Integrated to multiple telecoms and banking system, the system facilitates mobile payments to different merchants. DusuPay allows to get paid from anywhere in Africa and receive funds from a personal bank account or mobile wallet.
The list is certainly not exhaustive as the ecosystem of innovators in the payments segment continues to grow. Worth also mentioning interesting players like Sid Instant EFT, GeoPay, Sureswipe, SureRemit, Peers Exchange, SimbaPay & more.
International financial institutions have also been paying attention to the payments industry in Africa. Visa, for example, the global leader in payments, announced on Tuesday that it is bringing its mobile payments solution mVisa to Nigeria. The company said that it was in advanced discussions with leading Nigerian banks, and expects to roll the solution out with banking partners to Nigerian consumers before the end of 2016.