Africa Leading the way with Mobile Payments

November 24, 2011

As we’ve discussed in previous posts, Africa has become a global leader in mobile technology and innovation. With infrastructure limiting the expansion of conventional ICT solutions, mobile communication has a crucial role in everyday life on the continent. Following on the heels of the raging success of Kenya’s M-Pesaand similar mobile money transfer platforms, the next mobile frontier is mobile payment solutions.

Of course, DStv Online is obsessed with being on the cutting edge, and with sharing news from the cutting edge. We take a look at the prospects for mobile payment and mobile shopping in Africa.

Virtual Credit Cards

With around 175 mobile operators in Africa, servicing over half a billion mobile subscribers, value-added mobile services are here to stay.

The growth of mobile payment solutions seems a natural progression – particularly taking into consideration the success of mobile money transfer solutions such as M-Pesa, Iko Pesa, MKesh and Splash Mobile Money, as well as Africa’s low formal bank usage per capita.

A number of companies have already introduced mobile payment and shopping solutions. Kenya, yet again, is leading the way. Airtel have partnered with MasterCard Worldwide and Standard Chartered Bank to introduce PayOnlineInKenya, bringing e-commerce to the masses in mobile-centric Africa. The service allows users to request special one-time purchase codes which can be entered when making online purchases, automatically deducting the amount from their account. Safaricom – creator of M-Pesa – is introducing a similar virtual credit card solution in the near future.

Mobile Payment and NFC

Many experts, however, feel as if the long-term future of mobile payment lies with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. Building on the precedent set by Google Wallet, NFC technology in phones will allow people to scan in items for purchase in an easy, straightforward way. Cards – and money even – will no longer be required.

Obviously, this is dependent on the spread of NFC-enabled phones and banking support. Progress in that area is being made in our very own backyard. A non-profit organisation, the South African Nearfield Initiative, has been established to accelerate the technology’s adoption and support. Even more excitingly, leading South African bank, ABSA, has publicly stated that it will be making a concerted push for NFC payment solutions. Let’s hope this trend continues elsewhere in Africa

The future of mobile transactions on the continent certainly seems bright. DStv Online love to see Africa shine in technological innovation – particularly when it will be to the benefit of the masses. We’ll be keeping a close eye on the trend’s progress.

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