SA telcos moving aggressively to add fintech offerings to mobile money base

SA telcos moving aggressively to add fintech offerings to mobile money base

Image of Engineering News and Mining Weekly cover South Africa’s major telecommunications companies are accelerating their financial technology (fintech) strategies and betting big on Africa’s untapped digital economy potential to bolster dwindling traditional revenues in an ever-evolving digital era.

Boasting huge volumes of customers with access to data, and with a risk appetite and the infrastructure and the experience to rapidly move on new technologies and services and a strong partnership and alliance approach, telecommunications firms are well positioned to advance their digital services platforms across Africa.

Scores of unbanked citizens across the continent and rapidly growing access to mobile phones and connectivity are steadily increasing demand for more diversified, and integrated, digital services, particularly financial services.

MTN group chief digital and fintech officer Serigne Dioum says that the penetration of financial services and ecommerce is currently marginal across African markets.

“The opportunity exists for Africa to accelerate digital disruption within financial services, insurance, lending, remittance, payments and ecommerce,” he says.

According to the GSMA, the number of registered mobile money accounts globally grew by 12.7% to 1.21-billion accounts in 2020, double the forecast growth rate.

Sub-Saharan Africa, which has been at the forefront of the mobile money industry for over a decade, continued to account for the bulk of the growth, with 43% of all new accounts.

By the end of last year, there were 157 services available for the 548-million registered accounts in the region, 159-million of which were active on a monthly basis, says GSMA director-general Mats Granryd .

The steadily growing number of monthly active accounts suggests that more customers are being brought in from the margins of the financial system and are now becoming more frequent mobile money users, accessing a safe, secure and affordable way to send and receive money, top up airtime, make bill payments, receive salaries and access group savings or short-term loans.

“The Covid-19 pandemic brought into sharp focus the need to accelerate efforts towards wider and more reliable access to mobile financial services, which provide an important economic lifeline for many and promote physical-distancing measures,” says Vodacom Group legal and regulatory chief officer Nkateko Nyoka in a Vodacom public policy series, titled ‘A great reset after Covid-19: How mobile money can help shape resilient societies’.

“Mobile money has been a bedrock during the times of the pandemic, providing financial services to millions of people who have mobile phones, but do not have bank accounts, or only have limited access […]

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