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An estimate of 67% of Africans – 1.13 Billion people now have mobile phones. This is expected to increase to 79% by 2020. The abundance of these devices has paved the way for the creation of solutions that will ensure users maximize the most of it.
One of these solutions which has provided much needed ease for many is mobile payment. Mobile payments can simply be defined as the use of a mobile phone in order to transfer funds between banks or accounts, deposit or withdraw funds, or pay bills. It is also a broader realm of electronic commerce; as it refers to the use of a mobile device to purchase items, whether physical or electronic.
This has also been a force in propelling Africa’s financial sector as it is a perfect solution to banking the unbanked which abound on the continent. The Global Findex shows three quarters of the world’s poor do not have a bank account, not only because of poverty, but also due to costs, travel distance and paper work involved. It is also an alternative for people in urban areas to tackle issues of unreliable banks as they can perform services without going to them.
Mobile payments has greatly eased living and contributed greatly to Africa’s economic development as it has expanded to 16% of the market. A typical example is the country, Kenya – largely known as Africa’s silicon savannah – is a mobile money global leader and true mobile money success story. In 2014/2015, the country recorded shs. 4.2 Trillion transacted through its popular mobile money platform, M-pesa, representing 42% of the Kenya’s GDP. Following closely on its heels is Tanzania who in 2013 saw US$17.7 billion total transactions which was equivalent to over half (54%) of Tanzania’s GDP.
In Nigeria, there are currently over 18 licensed mobile payment services providers, making it the country with the highest number of mobile payment services providers in the world. This list consist of banks and companies established for this purpose under the 2009 Regulatory Framework for Mobile Payment Services.
According to the GSMA Mobile Money for the Unbanked 2013 Global Mobile Money Adoption Survey, the number of mobile money accounts have surpassed traditional bank accounts in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Kenya, Sudan, Gabon, Algeria, Congo, Rep. Somalia, Albania, Tajikistan, Uganda and Angola – in that particular order – have had a higher percentage of adults using a mobile phone for money transactions according to Global Findex.
Competition in Africa’s mobile money space is rapidly increasing and in order to thrive, mobile money providers must go the extra mile to solidify their stake in the evolving market. But there is an opportunity yet to be untapped in the industry.
So far, the focus has been on person to person transfer, airtime recharge and bill payment. With a country like Nigeria boasting over 80 Million people on mobile internet and only 20 Million with bank accounts, there is ample opportunity to provide Nigerians and Africans who are unbanked an opportunity to pay for goods and services online.
Recently, and part of contributing to the ecosystem, tmoni was launched. Tmoni is a mobile operator billing solution that enables content developers and aggregators effectively monetize digital content, goods and services. With far less than 50% of the Nigerian population owning formal bank accounts, operator billing is a particularly convenient means to monetize games, music, videos, e-books and also in-app purchases on mobile devices.
Content Developers and OEMs can now monetize previously hard to reach demographics as they expand into a fast growing and emerging market. Its benefits includes better conversion rates on mobile, flexible price points and cross-platform integration.
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