Last week at the 16th annual AfricaCom top industry professionals gathered from all over Africa to discuss Mobile Money in Africa.
One interesting theme to come out of the discussions was the need to move beyond the success of Mpesa.
The success of the Mpesa Mobile Money System in Kenya over the last few years has obliterated everyone’s expectations and it is universally held up as a case study of how much potential Mobile Money has in Africa and globally.
As it has matured there have been many attempts to duplicate its success in other markets but always with limited success. It has been difficult to recreate the perfect conditions that were responsible for the success of Mpesa. This is why Lowell Campbell from Standard Bank made the point that instead of trying to replicate the success of Mpesa, we need to move past it.
Yolande van Wyk from FNB reiterated this point while discussing FNB’s eWallet offering. She said that anyone trying to launch a mobile money product must be careful to treat each market in Africa as a separate opportunity. What works in one place will not work in another, every country is unique and in order to be successful you need to look at the market and the market needs. Don’t fall into the trap of painting all of Africa with one brush.
And it does seem like more and more, companies are taking this lesson to heart and developing some new, unique mobile payments solutions for Africa.
This was true at the conference itself where several unique mobile payments solutions were being showcased:
The people from TagAttitude have acknowledged that smartphones are not yet as ubiquitous in Africa as they are in the rest of the world. Their contactless technologies transform any phone into a secure transaction tool, regardless of the type of phone or network it belongs to.
Pelle Braendgaard from Kipochi explained how their bitcoin mobile wallet can be used for international money transfers. Considering that there is a 500 Billion Dollar worldwide remittance market, having a system which sits above international currencies and legislation could greatly influence how money flows into and around Africa.
Mukuru is another remittance company that offers cross boarder payments between South Africa and Zimbabwe. They have recently launched an App that allows people to use their services on their mobile devices.
Yolande van Wyk from FNB described how their FNB eWallet product has seen steady uptake in each market it has been introduced to thanks to its convenient and simple usability.
PayD is a solution which has been formulated specifically for South Africa where there is a relative low penetration of credit cards but a high penetration of debit cards. PayD works by turning your phone into a personal PIN entry device so that it is possible to make secure online or mobile purchases with a debit card.
These were just some of the unique mobile payment solutions that are emerging out of Africa.