Archives for category: Mobile Banking

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New mobile payment product M-Iflo launched to minimize risks as it is of great concern in the African markets.

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MMIT in partnership with Bango, a leader in mobile payments, has officially launched a product called M-Iflo to revolutionize the security of mobile payment environment in Sub-Sahara Africa. The M-Iflo product provides a safe payment solution that enables online transactions for digital content, which will unlock many opportunities in the world of mobile payments for Africa.

Africa is rapidly becoming a mobile hot spot with many consumers’ displaying their natural ability to quickly adapt to new technologies introduced to the market. The product is tailored to the African market by directly addressing the concerns surrounding the safety of payments and reducing the risks of transactions, which remains a barrier to doing business for new entrants into African markets. As a result of merchants’ fears regarding the technological and political risks factors, Africa has in many ways been limited or excluded from many of the break through technologies within the areas of mobile commerce and mobile billing. Jide Akindele, CEO of MMIT commented on these issues explaining, “unfortunately corruption remains a substantial risk within the mobile money industry in Sub-Saharan Africa. This has resulted in a reluctance from the world’s app stores and mobile brands to engage the African market.”

M-Iflo essentially is an intermediary between mobile merchants and mobile wallet providers. The product acts as a payment verification portal that provides a secure way for mobile content providers to reach African markets. This enables consumers of mobile wallets to select their wallet provider as a form of payment at the check out page of the transacting website. M-Iflo additionally allows those without mobile wallets to buy content from major app stores by using a top up card that can be purchased at retail outlets. Upon purchase of the top up card, codes are provided for the customer to enter upon checkout of a merchant site to complete the transaction online.

M-Iflo minimizes associated risks with online transactions and allows merchants to be paid up front, thus creating a work around to the common complexities of conducting business in Africa. This addresses app stores and merchant concerns of payments being held up in one country based on bureaucracy, fraud, or changes in regulation. Bango CEO Ray Anderson said: “There’s a smartphone boom in Africa and a frustrated demand for digital content. App stores and other merchants have been waiting for the reassurance of M-Iflo, which limits the risk of doing business in Africa, and has been designed to suit the ‘cash up front’ instincts of the African market.”

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M-Iflo has already integrated with major mobile wallet providers in Africa, including Mobipay in Kenya, Stanbic IBTC Mobile Money in Nigeria, and is working to add more to the list of partners. Jide Akindele, CEO of MMIT stated, “Merchants in the western market are yearning for a suitable payment process platform that minimizes their risk in the African market. We believe that our M-Iflo platform gives our clients that capability to do so. We look forward to opening up access to content store owners that are looking at the African market via Bango and MMIT’s Mobile money payment processing platform.”

MMIT is looking forward to this summer as the product officially launches in Nigeria with Stanbic within the coming weeks followed by Kenya’s launch later this summer.


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When we think of the potential for a cashless society we tend to look at the developed World and markets such as the United States or Europe as the places most likely for this development.  Even with credit cards and smart phones being ubiquitous throughout these countries you would be wise to look to emerging markets as the potential birthplace of a future cashless society.

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Mobile technology is growing and more than 1.7 billion people have cell phones but no bank accounts in emerging and developing markets.  According to the GMSA in 2012 there were123 mobile-money deployments in emerging markets, with 84 of them originating within the last 3 years.  Mobile money has the ability to offer financial services to the unbanked and reach consumers in the remotest parts of the World.  Even with the potential there is still a long way to go and Nigeria is a great example of this.Image

One of the emerging countries leading the cashless society initiative is Nigeria.  The cashless initiative in Nigeria is in its early stages.  The Central Bank of Nigeria, or CBN, has estimated that it will cost over $930 million to invest in new POS terminals, ATM’s, and payment solutions by 2015 as part of its “Cash-Less Lagos Project”.  Recently the CBN announced 40 billion Naira per day is being transacted virtually and the bulk of these transactions are being conducted in Lagos.

Initially CBN was targeting a phased approach post-pilot in Lagos State and then moving to a second phase which CBN claimed would cover close to 90% of all financial transactions in the country.  Due to the success of the Lagos Pilot CBN decided to implement the cashless push nationwide.  One of the stumbling blocks was the lack of infrastructure to facilitate cashless transactions conveniently and relatively close to the population. Kim Fraser, COO of MMIT, commented on the problems with the pilot program in Nigeria.  “In the Lagos Pilot there were only 10,000 POS systems on the ground in Lagos State.   Today there are over 150,000 POS systems deployed. It is still a small number to cover a country as large as Nigeria.  In addition the CBN has also realized that the term “Cashless” was scaring a lot of people especially in a country where 80% of the population is unbanked. The new catch phrase that the CBN prefers is “Cashlite”. There is still a significant way to go even under the new mantra of Cashlite though CBN appears to be making progress”.

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The debate for a cashless society has its positives and negatives.  For financial institutions a positive development of a cashless society is its ability to reduce costs required to print money and increase its consumer base and services to include the non-banked of the emerging and developing World.  For consumers there is an ease for transactions and the prospect of no longer having to carry cash.  Carrying cash can be a major problem in emerging countries where the risk of being robbed is greater. There is also potential for less corruption and more transparency in a cashless society.

The negatives include the invasion of privacy; security and fraud, and the wide divergence in the experience of mobile money service providers around the world.  There are some obvious hurdles that are slowing the progress of a cashless society including the lack of infrastructure, scalability, and the sustainability of mobile financial services.  So what does this mean for telecom and financial institutions?  It means there exists opportunities for the continued development of new financial products and greater customer education for their products.  If the telecom providers and financial institutions can create a healthy relationship with each other and with their consumer bases there can be continued growth and success for mobile money and other cashless initiatives.

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Many western companies are aware of the growing mobile money market in Africa and are watching with great interest, some actively participating in this growing industry, to the success and failures of different business models in different regions and countries.  They are also paying close attention to the different players; governments, financial institutions, and telecommunication providers, in regards to regulation or lack of regulation within the mobile money industry.  MMIT operates in the mobile money space out of Nigeria and West Africa so we feel that we are in a position of knowledge and expertise to talk on this matter in a concrete way, and also in a way that can hopefully add value and substance to the mobile money industry as it grows and matures.

Nigeria is home to 170 million individuals living in a country the size of Texas.  70% of that 170 million are unbanked, which means they either do not have access to formal banking institutions and services or are not taking part of the formal banking institutions and services. Nigeria has been labeled the financial hub of the African continent and many are watching this market to see if Nigeria is able to mimic and evolve the mobile money space in West Africa and eventually all of Sub-Saharan Africa.  The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is pushing for a cashless society in Nigeria which will limit the amount of cash being carried around the country. CBN is also currently licensing out mobile money licenses that will allow financial institutions and non-financial institutions (telecommunication providers and mobile money providers) to capture the unbanked populace in Nigeria.  This regulation of the mobile money sphere by CBN is seen as a blessing and also a curse.  For the people of Nigeria mobile money allows them to bank with ease and make transactional payments without restrictions regardless of their location to a banking outlet, the time factor of when the bank opens and closes, and they can perform transactions at any time of the day. The negative for the populace is the lack of agent networks (small kiosks in rural and heavily populated areas) to cater to the areas that banks are not located in. The consumer needs to be able to cash-in his or her physical money to virtual money and if there aren’t enough agent networks it defeats the whole purpose of mobile money and a cashless society.

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To counter this concern CBN has been pressing the financial institutions to increase their agent network to meet the needs and demands of the unbanked population and to decrease the use of cash as a payment option.  CBN also has been playing more of a role in the creation of the structure for the laws and regulations of the mobile money sphere to make sure it has some control over the industry.  The Central Bank fears that if it does not get involved it will not have an influence on the financial structure in Nigeria.  This has been a key issue in Kenya where the telecom company Safaricom has been able to build the M-Pesa platform and develop a monopoly on the mobile money industry and the financial banking industry of that country. CBN wants to avoid this and also apply a structure that will help the consumer but at the same time reduce cash that is circulating in the country.  Progress has been slow and to the naked eye it might seem as though CBN isn’t doing much.  You have to keep in mind that the mobile money industry is still in its infancy and government regulation is a new development for an industry that has seen little to no regulation since its birth.  MMIT believes that before the year is over you will see a significant change in the regulation and penetration of the mobile money industry led by CBN.

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Anthony Bushu is a Business Strategy, Marketing and Communication Consultant for MMIT a mobile software developer in Lagos, Nigeria.  Anthony has diverse experience in the mobile and telecommunications industries and has worked for telecommunication companies in the US, UK, and Africa.  Anthony can be reached on Twitter@anthonybushu or by email at Anthony.b@mmitonline.com.

A look at the predicted mobile payment growth in Nigeria

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MMIT COO – Kim Fraser will be a guest speaker at The Social Mobile Payments Conference taking place from November 6-8th at the Marriot Biscayne Bay in beautiful Miami, Florida.  Kim will share his expertise and knowledge and talk about the mobile payment revolution taking place in Africa.  Other speakers at this event include representatives from Amdocs, Digital River, MoPay, PayTap, Visa, Mobile Payments Today, to name a few.  For more information on this event please visit http://www.socialmobilepayments.com and for more information about Kim and MMIT please visit http://www.mmitonline.com.

MMIT COO – Kim Fraser

Today in Africa more people have access to mobile phones than to electricity. In Nigeria it was recently announced that the number of active subscribers had reached approximately 105 million.  In Sub Saharan Africa the mobile phone revolution has been under way for 11 years and has had a significant impact in the region significantly improving the population’s ability to communicate remotely for business and maintaining relationships with family and friends.

A significant offshoot of the rapid growth of mobile communications in Sub Saharan Africa is the direct secondary economic activity it has created.  The mobile infrastructure from selling airtime to roadside business centres for making phone calls has created an economic buzz to underdeveloped regions. Another informal activity which developed and demonstrates the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the people in Sub Saharan Africa is the use of prepaid airtime cards to informally send small amounts of money to family, friends and others.  Prepaid Airtime recharge cards are available everywhere, from vendors selling in the traffic during rush hour, to road side kiosks and retail shops.  Senders purchase airtime cards worth the value they wish to send to the beneficiary via an SMS allocated with PIN numbers.  The receiver then sells the airtime and collects cash in a simple and effective manner.  It doesn’t require any additional technology layers to function as long as agents are in place.

This informal money transfer arrangement has been going on long before Mpesa was launched and the banks decided it was a good idea to get involved in mobile money. This informal system works every where there is mobile coverage, is simple and carries little risk.  Innovation is a necessity in Africa and one does not have to look far to find numerous examples of how people innovate and improvise to overcome the many challenges found in this environment. So it is no surprise that Africa is a leader in innovation when it comes to mobile money and transactions via mobile networks and in the online space.

The highest users of mobile money are in Africa.  To many in North America or Europe this may come as a surprise, but for someone who has witnessed the astounding growth in mobile communications in Sub Saharan Africa and the transformation it has fostered, it is not so surprising. Mobile Money is projected to be a $615 billion a year industry by 2016 according to the Gartner Group. Today 80% of mobile money transactions worldwide take place in Kenya, with MPesa reportedly handling $20 million of transactions per day.

Africa has been the continent with the fastest growth in mobile subscriptions over the past 5 years. Today there are almost 700 million active lines on the continent. Mpesa is a resounding success in Kenya.  In Nigeria more people now access the internet from the small screen (mobile phones) than pcs, laptops and tablets. Africa has adopted mobile communications completely and is the mobile continent from a telecommunications perspective.   Africa is poised to change the way we think of financial services and blaze a trail in financial access innovation.  East Africa currently leads the way with products such as Jipange KuSave, M-Kopa, Kilimo Salama, Ipay, Lipisha, PesaPal, CrowdPesa products built on the M-PESA infrastructure and other Mobile money aggregators such as Mobipay, E-Fulusi, and YuCash.

Mobile money is a business/service, which suits Africa and its people. It is low cost from an investment and operational perspective, leverages ubiquitous infrastructure already widespread and highly accepted, taps into a growing pool of young tech-savy entrepreneurs high on innovation and eager to improve conditions in their home environments and demonstrate their capability to the world.  In the mobile money revolution Africa is leading the world!

Kim Fraser will be a guest speaker at The Social Mobile Payments: Americas! Conference being held November 6-8th at the Miami Marriot Biscayne Bay in Miami, Florida.  Kim will be representing MMIT and will be discussing the mobile payments revolution that is taking place in Africa.  For more info please visit http://www.mmitonline.com or http://www.socialmobilepayments.com.

In the Western World the idea of mobile banking/payments starts with our smartphones.  Our chief concern usually centers around privacy and security.  In the emerging World, especially Africa, mobile banking/payments are quite different and the concerns are quite different as well.  I recently talked to MMIT COO – Kim Fraser about the unique concerns and problems that face mobile wallet users in Africa:

AB: First of all thank you for taking the time today to meet with me Mr. Fraser.  I was hoping you could elaborate on the issues faced by mobile wallet users in Africa?

Kim: Thank you, and yes I can definitely speak on that.  In the west traditional banking services are universally accessible to a majority of the population through the use of ATMs, credit cards and debit cards. In Africa and other emerging markets banking services are not so universally widespread and accessible to the majority of the population. This is due to a number of factors such as the high cost of brick and mortar establishments, account opening criteria with the need for credible references, and relatively high initial deposit requirements, minimal balances, high transactional fees, cash based salary payment for many low end wage earners, etc.

In the west most mobile wallets or mobile phone banking products are based on the use of credit cards, and debit cards. They store the users card details on the phone. In developed markets most users of mobile phone technology are aware of the constant problem of identity theft in the mobile phone industry and the underground business that surrounds this activity such as illegal phone shops. Thus many view this as a security issue and an avenue for the theft of their financial details and the impending havoc it can create in ones life.

In Africa and the emerging markets with high rates of poverty the percentage of the population that is banked and using credit cards and debit cards is very small. Mobile banking in its original state, as introduced in Kenya by Safaricom (M-pesa), was not intended to target the banked but the unbanked, those that have no bank account, and no credit facilities. In this market segment the issues around adoption are different. Security is a concern but it does not revolve around identity theft but instead around the risk of carrying physical cash as opposed to carrying virtual cash, which is seen as safer. Also transaction fees for mobile banking are lower than brick and mortar banking fees, there are no minimal account balance barriers, and signing up for a mobile wallet/ bank account normally doesn’t require two reputable references that are already clients.  All it requires is a photo ID, and your phone number, and can be done at any of the mobile banking agent outlets.  Today there are 30,000 M-pesa agent outlets in Kenya and everywhere there is mobile phone service.

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AB: So really the perspective is totally different in Africa than in the West?

Kim: Yes, in Africa and other emerging markets most of the population perceive such services from a totally different perspective than in the west.  It is a game changer and an enabler not a convenience factor such as is the case in the west, where a larger percentage of the population carry smart phones and have credit, debit and ATM cards.

AB: Thank you Kim for your time and knowledge and remember you can follow Kim and MMIT at http://www.mmitonline.com.

MMIT COO – Kim Fraser

Companies MMIT and Bango recently went into a partnership to change the face of online and mobile payment in Nigeria and Africa by introducing M-Content. M-Content will enable online and mobile payments for goods and services offered on international social commerce websites. ABN and CNBC Africa’s Keisha Gitari met with MMIT COO Kim Fraser to find out more.

To watch the entire interview please view at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imaN7QIdG0c

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AB: Could you tell us a little about yourself, your experience in the mobile banking and payment industry, how you ended up in Nigeria, and your relationship with MMIT?

Kim:  I am a telecoms professional who handles technical as well as business management. I am originally from Saskatchewan, Canada and I started my relationship with Nigeria in the year 2000 in the early stages of deregulation of the Nigerian Telecom Sector. By late 2001 I was working full time in Nigeria.  I have held senior roles covering GM network planning to CTO and CEO/ MD for tier 2 Telecom Service providers in Nigeria.

I am relatively new to the mobile banking / online transaction space and have been steadily gaining knowledge from my colleagues currently engaged in this fast paced segment of the banking and telecom industry. I was recruited by MMIT to join the organization as the COO to assist with getting the organization up and running, developing structure, and insuring day to day activities are properly managed as well as to leverage my 10 years of experience within the Nigerian Telecom sector to the benefit of MMIT and its stake holders.

AB: In your opinion what are the main challenges one faces working in an emerging market environment like Nigeria?

Kim: Emerging markets are unique in that there are often major infrastructure challenges from transport to electrical supply to appropriate ICT infrastructure for business in general ,

In addition markets such as Nigeria are still cash based so there is an adoption hurdle to overcome in order to push services such as mobile banking to a large segment of the population. Through having been in Nigeria for over 10 years I have witnessed first hand how rapidly technology is adopted in this market provided the access is there, and the benefits to ones daily life are clearly communicated and understood.

AB: What features allow MMIT to differentiate itself from others in the mobile banking and payment industry in Africa?

Kim: MMIT has developed its product suite around the challenges currently faced by credit card, debit card, and Mobile Wallet users face when trying to engage in electronic transactions whether it is sending and receiving funds, or trying to purchase content or merchandise online via the traditional methods mentioned above.  With MMIT as long as your electronic wallet is appropriately funded, online transactions for content or merchandise will not be rejected.

In respect to funds transfer MMIT has created an ecosystem which provides convenient access to users of this service for sending and receiving of funds. This has been accomplished through strategic partnerships within local and international markets to insure it is as easy as buying a lottery ticket or airtime top-up from local shops.

MMIT also understands the need for its payment solutions to work in the context of the local environment, while at the same time offering a first class experience in respect to the range of merchants and content stores users of its products have access to.  The founders of MMIT have put in considerable effort in this area and are still pushing to enhance the reach of our content and merchant ecosystem.

AB:  How much are the big market players, such as Google and large banks like Barclays and Bank of America, threats to smaller niche providers like MMIT?  Are these bigger market players gaining ground in Nigeria and Africa?

Kim: In Nigeria large players such as Google and Barclays are not entrenched or even on the radar screen.  This is in part due to the make up of the Nigerian Banking sector which has not been dominated by large international banking institutions such as one sees in east Africa and perhaps other Sub-Saharan African countries. As well there does seem to be a tendency for large international players to want to push products they developed for maturity into well developed markets such as Europe and North America rather than into the emerging market space with out looking at the peculiar nature of such markets and whether the product will serve the needs of those it is intended for.  So for now we do not see any major push for the major international players to penetrate Nigeria’s market in any significant manor.

Thank you for your time Kim.  Kim will be appearing on CNBC Africa tomorrow at 5:30 PM West African Time.  Kim can be contacted at kim.f@mmitonline.com.

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Kim Fraser – COO MMIT