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African mobile money success highlighted

Africa’s mobile money successes will be the focus of the annual Mobile Money Africa conference to be held in South Africa in May.

The event, from 14 to 17 May in Johannesburg, will bring together all the stakeholders in the mobile money ecosystem as well as retailers, merchants and card associations.

Event programme director Sonum Puri says South Africa is not only a competitive mobile money market, but is a good representation of the different business models that are transpiring from banks, mobile network operators (MNOs), third party operators, social media and online retailers and payment providers. 

Puri says: “The event will be a great chance to show the mobile money ecosystem can grow to encompass many new stakeholders in the marketplace which means that people can take lots of examples from the South African market and apply to their own businesses.”

He says Kenya is a well known example of the tremendous potential and success of mobile money transfer on the continent with Safaricom’s M-PESA.

Sonum says MMT is also beginning to gain momentum in other parts of Africa: “Much has been documented about the potential of mobile money in East Africa, but for the first time, the Mobile Money Africa conference will be exploring the rise of mobile financial services in West African countries such as Senegal and the Ivory Coast. The event will also be looking at the integration of mobile money with online channels to penetrate the e-commerce market and tap into a new customer base.”

Nigeria in particular is predicted to be another big market for mobile money, as research shows that only 25 per cent of the Nigerian population has bank accounts or access to financial services. 

Sonum continues: “last May, the Central Bank of Nigeria issued licenses to sixteen mobile money operators and in the last couple of months we have seen a number of providers such as Monitise, Pagatech, eTranzact, and United Bank of Africa announce the launch of new mobile money services. The Nigerian mobile money market is already valued at $25 billion and mobile money users are expected to reach 709 million by 2015.”

Another country worth watching is Tanzania which is one of the fastest growing mobile money markets in the world. Puri says the country currently boasts mobile phone penetration of 49% and there are four active mobile money businesses, the largest of which is Vodacom’s M-PESA which has over two million active users.

Says Puri: “Visa recently unveiled a mobile prepaid product which will be offered by MTN in Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda, other big growth markets especially for remittances. The Central Bank of West Africa is playing an active role in encouraging private sector players to roll out mobile money services and the Central Bank has also promoted the launch of the new Gim mobile service in West Africa.”

Mobile Money Africa 2012 forms part of the Connected Africa Forum, which will showcase the evolution of mobile lifeline services and applications in Africa, and highlight the evolving intersection between mobile money, mobile health and mobile agriculture.

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