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August 2, 2021

On the web

Is West Africa Ready for a Single Currency?

Brookings

“Since the early 2000s, the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has been pursuing a common currency agenda, centered on the “eco,” with the intention of reducing barriers to doing business across the region and increasing trade overall. While the implementation of the new currency has been postponed due to hurdles in macroeconomic convergence across the countries and the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, among other challenges, many policymakers remain keen to forge ahead, with implementation now tentatively set for 2027.”

July 6, 2021

On the web

Banking and Payment Channels in Africa Are Showing Positive Growth – Cape Business News

Cape Business News

“The number of mobile money accounts in Africa passed the half a billion mark in 2020, and the continent accounted for more than 64% of the value of global mobile money transactions, totalling $767bn. Looking to the future, there is no sign of this growth slowing, according to CR4 Market Insight. That said, traditional banking and payment channels, like ATMs and point of sale (POS) also show an upward trend, highlighting the wide range of needs of the African population.”

July 2, 2021

On the web

Africa’s Amazon Targets 100 Years of E-Commerce Leadership

Bloomberg

Jumia Technologies AG is focused on building a sustainable business in Africa’s e-commerce space over the next 100 years rather than only pursuing growth, an executive said… U.S.-listed Jumia is seen as one of the pioneers in online trading in sub-Saharan Africa, which trails the rest of the world due to challenges including weak internet connections and unreliable addresses. Covid-19 related movement restrictions and improving broadband penetration have spurred competition in the e-commerce space on the continent since last year. Its payment business, JumiaPay, now accounts for a third of its revenues, according to Hodara.”

June 15, 2021

On the web

Kenyan E-commerce Startup Sky.Garden Raises $4m Series A Funding Round – Disrupt Africa

Disrupt Africa

“Launched in May 2017, Sky.Garden is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for mobile commerce that is built specifically for African businesses. Its easy-to-use online marketplace allows informal traders, SMEs and established businesses to sell their products. Its technology has been built with a strong focus on African sellers and adapted to tap into the extensive logistics network of informal and structured shipping across the continent. Sky.Garden raised a US$1.2 million seed funding round in 2018 , and it has now taken on a further US$4 million in capital via a Series A round featuring SANAD Fund for MSME , Aavishkaar , UNCOVERED FUND and KSK Angel Fund , the latter founded by Japanese former AC Milan footballer Keisuke Honda.”

June 1, 2021

On the web

SVB-led $100M Investment Makes Chipper Cash Africa’s ‘most Valuable Startup’

TechCrunch

“Fintech in Africa is a goldmine. Investors are betting big on startups offering a plethora of services from payments and lending to neobanks, remittances and cross-border transfers, and rightfully so. Each of these services solves unique sets of challenges. For cross-border payments, it’s the outrageous rates and regulatory hassles involved with completing transactions from one African country to another. Chipper Cash , a three-year-old startup that facilitates cross-border payment across Africa, has closed a $100 million Series C round to introduce more products and grow its team.”

May 24, 2021

On the web

Why South Africa’s Vodacom Is Planning to Sell Off Part of Its M-Pesa Stake

Technext

“South Africa’s biggest telco, Vodacom has received premium buyout offers for a partial stake in its mobile money business, M-Pesa. According to CEO, Shameel Joosub, Vodacom will be forced to consider these offers if M-Pesa’s performance does not significantly push up its market valuation…Unlike in Kenya where M-Pesa covers 91% of the entire mobile subscriber base, the mobile money service has not been able to attract enough users in South Africa – Vodacom’s biggest telecoms market. The operator has 44 million subscribers in the country, more than MTN’s 33 million. Vodacom’s majority-owned subsidiaries also operate M-Pesa in Tanzania, Mozambique, Lesotho and DR Congo. However, none of these countries have seen the rapid adoption of M-Pesa as in Kenya.”

May 20, 2021

On the web

Mobile Money In Africa Reaches Nearly $500bn During Pandemic

Forbes

“Mobile Money transaction boomed globally in 2020, especially in sub-Saharan Africa which accounted for 43% of all new accounts, according to the GSM Association. More than half of such accounts are in Africa, which is has been the fastest-growing region for mobile phone growth for several years. “Many of the socio-economic and development challenges arising from the pandemic are being tackled with mobile money tools,” says Mats Granryd, the director general of the London-based GSMA, an umbrella body for the mobile industry. According to the GSMA’s State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money 2021, “sub-Saharan Africa has been at the forefront of the mobile money industry for over a decade”. It continued to account for most of the growth in 2020 with 43% of all new accounts.”

May 14, 2021

On the web

MFS Africa Invests in Maviance

africaglobalfunds

“MFS Africa, a pan-African fintech company, operating the largest digital payments hub on the continent, had provided seed investment of $3m to Maviance, a Cameroon-based fintech provider. Maviance will be using the new funding to increase its footprint in its Cameroon and to expand into other countries in the central African economic region (CEMAC).    Dare Okoudjou, MFS Africa’s founder and CEO, said: “The rapid development of digital financial services that we have seen in Cameroon over the past few years is poised to spread across the CEMAC region. This will further accelerate the demand for domestic and cross-border payment from MSMEs, social enterprises and corporates in the region.””

May 6, 2021

On the web

Africa’s Digital Payments Race Becomes a Scramble

Reuters

“The prospect of a cashless Africa has triggered a scramble for control of its payments plumbing. The continent’s top telecoms operators have become big financial players thanks to their “mobile money” networks, which provide basic banking to tens of millions through handsets. If China is a guide, that could make them gatekeepers to a fintech revolution. Africa’s patchy personal banking industry helped make it the world leader in mobile money, which lets consumers and small enterprises zap each other cash via a bare-bones cellphone handset. For the industry’s four big players – France’s Orange (ORAN.PA) , South Africa’s MTN (MTNJ.J) , Britain’s Vodafone (VOD.L) and Airtel Africa (AAF.L) , controlled by India’s Bharti Airtel (BRTI.NS) – the coronavirus pandemic has affirmed the social importance of the service to the region’s billion people. It’s also a reminder of the industry’s commercial fragility.”

May 4, 2021

On the web

This Fintech Solution Helps African Refugees Store and Send Money

Fast Company

“Leaf—the winner of the developing world technology category in Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards —is a money storage solution that allows these individuals to carry digital cash into Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda, where Leaf currently operates. “It is a digital wallet that goes with the customer wherever they go,” Samples says. “Think of it as a global Venmo account.” Money stays protected in the Leaf wallet for as long as they need, and they can receive cash from relatives living in those countries at any point during their journeys. It builds on an already trusted technology, and one that’s booming as cashless payments become more prevalent: mobile money has seen a 400% increase in adoption during the pandemic.”

April 28, 2021

On the web

Ivorian Startup Afrikrea Partners With DHL and Visa to Launch SaaS E-commerce Platform ANKA

TechCrunch

“The platform called ANKA will allow users to sell from Africa, ship products to anywhere in the world and get paid through local and international African payment methods… The platform lets users sell via an omnichannel dashboard with a single inventory, orders and messages management. Customers can carry out transactions via a customized online storefront like Shopify, social media platforms, links such as on Gumroad and the Afrikrea marketplace. Merchants can carry out payments and payouts via a wallet and an Afrikrea Visa card. The platform, which costs $12, allows customers to perform mobile money and mobile banking transactions with MPesa, Orange, MTN and PayPal.”

April 20, 2021

On the wires

Zeepay Ghana Acquires Mangwee Mobile Money in Zambia

Zeepay , the leading African Challenger Fintech with operations in over 10 African countries today acquired a 51 percent stake in Mangwee Mobile Money in Zambia… Mangwee has been in operations since 2018, and was initially set up to operate as an alternative wallet targeting university students in Zambia with the aim of assisting to drive the cost of mobile money services downward. Zeepay is the leading African challenger fintech with operations across 20 African countries and 30 day active in 10 of them. The company specializes in paying remittances into mobile money wallets across Africa and is regulated by both Bank of Ghana as an EMI issuer and in the UK as a Money Transfer Operator, by the Financial Conduct Authority.”

April 15, 2021

On the web

African Fintechs Collaborate To Interlink Mobile Money And Digital Assets

Mondovisione

“The Seychelles-based Securities, Commodities and Derivatives Exchange ( SECDEX ), and KOINON , the global Digital Coin and Token based payment platform, are pleased to announce a collaboration to foster the intersection of African B2C and B2B payments and dynamic asset conversion between fiat currencies, cryptocurrencies and a broader range of digital assets. This initiative comes at a key time in the mobile payments industry growth as evidenced by Mastercard’s recent $100million investment in Africa’s Airtel which focuses on mobile payments and financial inclusion.”

March 16, 2021

On the web

Flutterwave and PayPal Collaborate to Allow African Merchants to Accept and Make Payments

TechCrunch

“It is nearly impossible for businesses in some African countries to receive money from PayPal. While the payments giant has not given reasons why this is so, speculation hints at factors like insufficient regulation and poor banking security in said countries.  That might be a thing of the past for some businesses, as African payments company Flutterwave today is announcing a collaboration with PayPal to allow PayPal customers globally to pay African merchants through its “Pay with PayPal” feature.”

March 10, 2021

On the web

African Payments Company Flutterwave Raises $170M, Now Valued at Over $1B

TechCrunch

“The proliferation of fintech services across Africa remains in full swing as investors remain bullish about the opportunities that abound in the sector. Today we behold another unicorn: African payments company Flutterwave announced that it has closed $170 million, valuing the company over $1 billion. New York-based private investment firm Avenir Growth Capital and U.S. hedge fund and investment firm Tiger Global led the Series C round…Launched in 2016 as a Nigerian and U.S.-based payments company with offices in Lagos and San Francisco, Flutterwave helps businesses build customizable payments applications through its APIs.”

February 17, 2021

On the wires

Mastercard and MTN Empower Millions of Consumers in Africa to Make Payments on Global Platforms – MTN Group

“Mastercard and MTN today announced a strategic partnership to enable millions of consumers in 16 countries across Africa to make global e-commerce payments safely and securely. Through a Mastercard virtual payment solution linked to MTN MoMo (Mobile Money) wallets, consumers and merchants can engage with brands and businesses abroad through digital commerce, extending their reach to an international marketplace and unlocking a host of opportunities.”

February 2, 2021

On the web

MasterCard Helps Launch a Digital Payments Platform in Africa

NewsDay Zimbabwe

“The digital and card payments giant has launched a payment platform in Africa that will help clients adopt and use mobile-based payments. This is initially being launched across 40 African countries, with it being made available for use immediately in some of the biggest African economies such as Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Ghana. This solution will allow financial institutions to simplify their payment systems, and give them access to MasterCard products, which in turn can be offered to their customers, including digital wallets, P2P wallets and virtual cards.”

November 19, 2020

On the web

African fintech startup Chipper Cash raises $30M backed by Jeff Bezos

TechCrunch

“African cross-border fintech startup Chipper Cash has raised a $30 million Series B funding round led by Ribbit Capital with participation of Bezos Expeditions — the personal VC fund of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos…he company offers mobile-based, no fee, P2P payment services in seven countries: Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Africa and Kenya. Parallel to its P2P app, the startup also runs Chipper Checkout — a merchant-focused, fee-based payment product that generates the revenue to support Chipper Cash’s free mobile-money business. The company has scaled to 3 million users on its platform and processes an average of 80,000 transactions daily.”

November 18, 2020

On the web

Standard Bank to support contactless payments in 15 African countries

NFC World

Standard Bank is supporting the mass rollout of contactless cards across Africa as the financial services group reports an accelerated increase in the use of tap and pay across the continent.  Based in South Africa, the group is currently enabling contactless payment capabilities for customers in 15 African markets, including Botswana, Eswatini (Swaziland), Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.”

October 30, 2020

On the web

Safaricom launches M-Pesa service for small businesses

Business Daily Africa

“Boda boda operators, food vendors and other small informal business owners will be able to separate business and personal funds on M-Pesa with a new feature on the money transfer service. Dubbed Pochi la Biashara, the feature allows the business owners who do not have a Lipa na M-Pesa line to receive money from customers into a separate wallet. “Business owners will be able to separate their business funds and personal funds allowing them to use business transactions to make better business decisions,” said Safaricom.”

October 2, 2020

On the wires

Mastercard Partners with Samsung, Airtel and Asante to Drive Digital Inclusion in Africa Through Pay-On-Demand Services

“Mastercard announced a partnership with Samsung, Airtel Africa and Asante Financial Services Group (“Asante”) to launch a Pay-on-Demand payments platform and drive the digital economy across Africa. Mastercard’s strategy is based on collaboration and partnerships that drive innovation and this is another example. By enabling digital access to everyday products and services for under-served consumers and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the payments platform will aim at driving digital and financial inclusion and can lead to improved economic possibilities for people and businesses.”

September 29, 2020

On the web

Pandemic Spurs Africa’s Mobile Telcos to Ramp Up Banking Bid

Reuters

“When COVID-19 hit Ivory Coast, Bonaventure Kra, who works at an import-export business, began to worry. Handling hard cash all day was a risk. Queuing in crowded bank branches exposed him to infection. Then, in the midst of the pandemic, French telecommunications giant Orange ORAN.PA launched an entirely digital bank – its first full banking venture in Africa…Africa’s mobile phone operators are ramping up plans to bring banking to millions of Africans, in some cases for the first time, after the coronavirus crisis caused a surge in use of digital financial services.”

September 17, 2020

On the wires

Global Organizations Join the Mojaloop Foundation to Advance Financial Inclusion

“The Mojaloop Foundation today announced that India’s leading digital payments platform PhonePe and enterprise blockchain solution provider Ripple have joined as Sponsor members, the highest level of the organization. In their role as Sponsor members, they will join the Mojaloop Foundation Board of Directors and help provide the strategic vision, governance, and technical guidance to ensure the long-term health and growth of the Mojaloop open source software and development community.”

August 11, 2020

On the wires

Mastercard Enables Small Businesses to Tap into the Booming Digital Economy

“Mastercard has launched a new low-cost payments solution that enables small business owners to move their businesses online and accept a range of digital payments from their customers. The “SME-in-a-Box” solution is powered by Mastercard’s payment technology and that of its fintech partners, including payments and agency banking solutions company SmartPesa, a Mastercard StartPath partner. The solution will aid small and micro merchants across the region in expanding their customer base via digital platforms and enable sustainable revenue growth.”

June 30, 2020

On the web

Mobile Money Gateway MFS Africa Has Acquired B2B Digital Payments Player, Beyonic

Quartz Africa

“MFS Africa, the pan-African payments gateway which connects wallets across different mobile money platforms through its API, has acquired Beyonic, a digital payments services provider for enterprises which operates in Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda. As part of the acquisition, MFS Africa will absorb Beyonic’s entire team while Luke Kyohere, founder of Beyonic, will join MFS Africa’s leadership team. MFS Africa will also offer Beyonic’s enterprise-focused service as a product under its wider brand. The acquisition, terms of which are undisclosed, remains subject to regulatory approval by the Fair Competition Commission in Tanzania.”

June 17, 2020

On the web

June 10, 2020

On the web

Uber Africa launches Uber Cash with Flutterwave and explores EVs

TechCrunch

Uber is launching its Uber Cash digital wallet feature in Sub-Saharan Africa through a partnership with San Francisco-based — Nigerian-founded — fintech firm Flutterwave. The arrangement will allow riders to top up Uber wallets using the dozens of remittance partners active on Flutterwave’s Pan-African network. Flutterwave operates as a B2B payments gateway network that allows clients to tap its APIs and customize payments applications.”

May 20, 2020

On the web

African e-commerce is getting a much needed boost from coronavirus lockdowns

Quartz (paywall)

“It turns out the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic may yet ease one of the lingering challenges faced by e-commerce businesses in African markets. While many of these ventures have attempted to engineer a shift in local social behavior in customers, the pandemic’s restrictions mean the choice of shopping online is  finally getting a PR or marketing boost out of necessity and safety.”

April 30, 2020

On the web

African fintech firm Flutterwave launches SME e-commerce portal

TechCrunch

“San Francisco and Lagos-based fintech startup Flutterwave has launched Flutterwave Store, a portal for African merchants to create digital shops to sell online. The product is less Amazon and more eBay — with no inventory or warehouse requirements. Flutterwave insists the move doesn’t represent any shift away from its core payments business. The company accelerated the development of Flutterwave Store in response to COVID-19, which has brought restrictive measures to SMEs and traders operating in Africa’s largest economies.”

April 6, 2020

On the web

Vodacom And Safaricom Acquire M-Pesa To Accelerate Mobile Money Services In Africa

TechCrunch

“M-Pesa, the first and most successful mobile money payment service, has been acquired by South Africa’s Vodacom and its Kenyan subsidiary Safaricom in a new joint venture that they hope will spur the growth of this novel new form of payment on the continent. The GSMA already says half of all the world’s mobile money services are in Africa, which is a testament to how successful this trend, originally launched by Safaricom in 2007, has been. Safaricom was a Vodafone subsidiary at the time, and its ownership was transformed to Vodacom, another subsidiary, in 2017 to consolidate the London-based Vodafone’s subsidiaries in sub-Saharan Africa.”

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