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Mobile money to ring changes at AfricaCom

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Mobile money and the way it has enabled African societies to evolve into a wider economic inclusion is one of the main topics that will come under discussion at this year’s upcoming AfricaCom conference in Cape Town.

Mobile Money – or making payments via your cell phone – is becoming the great differentiator in African societies, to such an extent that it has evolved into a tool for wider economic inclusion and social enablement.

In his annual ‘Gates News’ newsletter Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, wrote about the impact that smartphones and mobile banking would have in the next 15 years. He said “digital banking will give the poor more control over their assets and help them transform their lives and by 2030, two billion people who don’t have a bank account today will be storing money and making payment with their phones”.

Sub Saharan Africa currently hosts 52% of all live mobile money deployments worldwide. This statistic clearly shows a significant need for quality mobile financial services within the African – and global – society. It’s this need that has created the huge business opportunity for Mobile Money. A handful for African operators have led the way in addressing these societal needs by developing interoperable services. At the same time they’ve leveraged a broader reach to customers and built a robust business from their mobile money verticals.

Innovations in Tanzania have led the way for interoperability. Operators such as Tigo, Airtel, Zantel, and now Vodacom’s M-Pesa service have initiated a new wave of collaboration between their respective mobile money services.

At AfricaCom 2015, the continent’s largest Telecoms, ICT and tech event, delegates will have the opportunity to engage with expert speakers discussing the key issues embodying the direction and evolution of this pioneering industry.

Adam Thompson, Africa and Middle East, Com World Series Head of Content, said: “High level representatives from all the leading companies in the mobile money business will be speaking at AfricaCom in the Mobile Money stream. Along with all other tier one operators they will be focusing on many themes, including interoperability during the continent’s most focused and relevant meeting for professionals in mobile financial services.”

Discussion topics will included:

Achieving interoperability through mobile financial services

Developing relevant and profitable Mobile Financial Services

Learnings on launching payments via an OTT

Chief regulatory panel – nurturing innovation whilst maintaining regulation

Further dialogue around the interoperability between mobile operators and banking services; mobile money and convergence with traditional merchant payment systems; and the evolution of nano-finance through mobile will also form part of this leading-edge theme.

Thompson said: “If you are a network operator in the mobile money space, a financial institution operating mobile services, or regulator from telecoms or banking sectors, register for your complementary pass to Mobile Money and AfricaCom today. You’ll learn how to reach a broader range of people across multiple regions, while maintaining high service quality. The discussions will share insight on how to launch and scale interoperable mobile money services; identify and share best practices, guidelines and processes while engaging regulatory support.”

AfricaCom, now in its 18th year, brings together senior decision-makers from the entire digital ecosystem, from all over Africa. Last year the conference was attended by 9000 digital movers and shakers, with more than 375 of the worlds most innovative brands showcasing their products and services at the event. 2015 is expected to exceed this number and is anticipated to be the best place on the continent to learn how to engage your customers in an every changing digital market, and make the best of this global marketing trend – the future of marketing.

Speakers at this event will include; Asif Aziz of Expresso Telecom Group, Fredrik Jejdling of Ericsson, Li Peng of Huawei, Willem Hendrickx of Alcatel-Lucent, Dr. Harry Gombachika of Malawi Telecommunications Limited, Mariam Altman of Telkom, Mark Shoebridge of Uganda Telecom, Biola Edun of Etisalat Nigeria, Nic Rudnick of Liquid Telecom, Dominique Baron of Horus Telecom, Sherry Zameer of Gemalto.

Africa News

Africa phones go flat

Africa’s mobile phone market declined 2.1% quarter on quarter in Q3 2018 according to the latest figures from IDC.

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The global technology research and consulting firm newly released Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker shows overall shipments for the quarter totalled 52.6 million units, with feature phone shipments falling 2.7% QoQ and smartphone shipments declining 1.3% over the same period.

Transsion brands (Tecno, Infinix, and Itel) led the feature phone space in Q3 2018, with a combined unit share of 58.2%. Nokia was next in line with 11.7% share. Transsion, Samsung, and Huawei dominated the smartphone space with respective unit shares of 34.9%, 21.7%, and 10.2%. However, in value terms, Samsung led the smartphone market with 37.2% share, followed by Transsion (21.0%) and Huawei (13.0%).

There were differing fortunes in the region’s three major markets, with Nigeria suffering a heavy 11.6% QoQ decline in mobile phone shipments, while South Africa and Kenya saw respective QoQ growth of 8.5% and 7.9% in Q3 2018.

“The decline in Nigeria stemmed from a slowdown in government spending, ongoing warfare in the country’s northern states, and market uncertainty in the lead up to elections,” says George Mbuthia, a research analyst at IDC. “In South Africa, the market’s growth was spurred by the penetration of low-end devices from brands such as Mobicel, Mint, and Nokia, while the launch of entry-level smartphones helped drive growth in Kenya despite increases in taxes and fuel prices placing a significant burden on disposable income in the country.”

While feature phones remain steadfastly popular across Africa, particularly in more rural areas, consumers are increasingly being attracted by smartphone offerings from Chinese brands such as Xiaomi, Oppo, and Huawei, which are actively targeting feature-oriented customers at more economical price points.

“There is a new wave of Chinese brands aggressively pursuing growth opportunities in the region, while the more-established Huawei is also accelerating its marketing efforts and expanding its distribution budget,” says Ramazan Yavuz, a research manager at IDC. “These brands have quickly progressed along the learning curve and evolved their offerings to perfectly reflect the realities of the region by addressing the diverse pricing and feature needs of the consumer base.”

Looking ahead, IDC expects Africa’s overall mobile phone market to reach 58 million units in Q4 2018, spurred by the festive season and online consumer events such as Black Friday. The introduction of more affordable smartphones in the African market will help drive progress in this space over the coming quarters, while the share of feature phones will decline steadily as the transition to smartphones gathers momentum.

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Africa News

Mobile money to cross borders

Orange and MTN launch pan-African mobile money interoperability to scale up mobile financial services across Africa.

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Two of Africa’s largest mobile operators and mobile money providers, Orange Group and MTN Group, today announced a joint venture, Mowali (mobile wallet interoperability), to enable interoperable payments across the continent. Mowali makes it possible to send money between mobile money accounts issued by any mobile money provider, in real time and at low cost.

Mowali will immediately benefit from the reach of MTN Mobile Money and Orange Money, bringing together over 100 million mobile money accounts and mobile money operations in 22 of sub-Saharan Africa’s 46 markets. Mowali is ready to enable interoperability between digital financial service providers beyond MTN and Orange operations and markets, to support the existing 338 million mobile money accounts in Africa.

Mowali is a digital payment infrastructure that connects financial service providers and customers in one inclusive network. It functions as an industry utility, open to any mobile money provider in Africa, including banks, money transfer operators and other financial service providers.

The objective of Mowali is to increase the usage of mobile money by consumers and merchants.  Mowali enables money to circulate freely between mobile money accounts from any operators in all countries.  From the customer’s point of view, this means “I can pay or receive money anywhere from my mobile account regardless of my operator”. The system will unlock further innovation in the digital financial space within the continent. 

For Stéphane Richard, Chairman & CEO of Orange, “by providing full interoperability between platforms, Mowali will provide an important step forward that will allow mobile money to become a universal means of payment in Africa. Increasing financial inclusion through the use of digital technology is an essential element in furthering the economic development of Africa, particularly for more isolated communities. This solution embodies Orange’s ambition to be a leading player in the digital transformation of the continent. By joining forces with another of Africa’s market leaders, MTN, we aim to accelerate the pace of this transformation in a way that will change the lives of our customers by providing them with simpler, safer and more advantageous services. “

“One of MTN’s goals is to accelerate the penetration of mobile financial services in Africa, Mowali is one such vehicle that will help us achieve that objective. Furthermore, co-operation and partnerships that help us accelerate the pace of development and overcome some of the scale, scope and complexity of challenges that society faces are key. This partnership with Orange is therefore an important step in helping us play a meaningful role in supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals related to eliminating extreme poverty and enhancing socio-economic development in the markets we operate in and beyond. Thus giving our customers access to a bright, digital future.” said Rob Shuter, Group President and CEO of MTN.

The GSMA supports the Mowali initiative as interoperability at this scale is a key accelerator for both financial inclusion and Mobile Money usability across Africa.  “Today, there are over 690 million mobile money accounts around the world. Mobile money services have become an essential, life-changing tool across Africa, providing access to safe and secure financial services but also to energy, health, education and employment opportunities. The creation of Mowali will help to further transform mobile financial services throughout the African region. It demonstrates the mobile industry’s continued leadership and commitment to driving financial inclusion and economic empowerment through industry collaboration. The GSMA is proud to support its development,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA.

“Interoperability of digital payments has been the toughest hurdle for the financial services industry to overcome, in support of financial inclusion. With Mowali, Orange and MTN deliver a solution that will enable them, and other companies, to scale digital financial services across Africa, faster, to everyone—including the poor,” said Kosta Peric, deputy director of Financial Services for the Poor, at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation “This is a signal that a new wave of innovation, which can help alleviate poverty and drive economic opportunity, is coming. We’re pleased to see an implementation of Mojaloop—an open source payment platform available to operators across the sector—help achieve that.”

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