The Sleeping Giants Of African Mobile Payments
29 October 2012
TechCrunch - Kenya’s M-PESA is the poster child for mobile money services in Africa, but it is also increasingly gaining attention further abroad. It is, however, only one of the mobile payment systems on the continent that have bypassed the typical financial rites of passage and are very quickly catapulting consumers into a truly cashless economy, as well as transforming lives in a very real sense.
To make a sweeping generalization about a very large and very diverse continent, Africa has three characteristics that have created fertile ground for the growth of mobile money. Firstly, there is the enormous uptake of mobile phones across the continent: according to the African Development Bank there were fewer than two million mobile phones users in Africa in 1998. This number grew to more than 400 million by 2009 and the GSM Association predicts cellphone numbers will top 735 million by the end of this year – in excess of 70% penetration.