Archives for category: Mobile Growth in Nigeria

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African SMEs and Entrepreneurs – the time is now!

Africa is quickly emerging as a top contender for business expansion in large company ventures. In many ways, Africa has been referred to as the “next Asia” with strong investment growth. After all, the continent is home to 7 of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world. The future has been looking much brighter for Africa, especially in the last decade where we have seen Africa’s GDP more than double.

According to EY’s recent attractiveness survey for 2014, Sub-Sahara Africa places in second place.  Three years ago in 2011 SSA was listed 3rd from last on the same list. This year, North America is the only region that ranks ahead of Africa in terms of investment attractiveness.

Growth within these nations not only provides incentive for foreign direct investment (FDI) from all over the world, but also more importantly provides immense opportunities for African entrepreneurs across the continent. EY also cites Intra-African investment and development as a major source of growth for the continent.

Inherently Africa has a high level of risk associated with business investment with many nations battle political instability, corruption, and problems associated with the lack of proper infrastructure. All of these factors contribute to the risk in conducting business in Africa which is eminently complex. In the past, such issues have resulted in the hesitation by global companies from exploring expansion into African nations. However in present day, it appears investors have been able to see beyond negative headlines of nations such as Nigeria, Kenya, and Sudan due to the market potential outweighing many of the risks.

Africa micro business While many large size multinational enterprises (MNEs) such as Nissan, H&M, and Burger King are making headlines for their decisions to expand into Africa for business ventures, the success behind these rapidly growing countries is largely due to SMEs, small and medium sized enterprises. Several MNEs have recently been attracted to the region due to significant improvements in regulatory, legal, and business systems. However, according to IFC and World Bank reports, over 90% of all businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa are SMEs. Aside from this, there is also the informal market of micro businesses that are largely unaccounted for.

With the exciting growth of the mobile phone industry, it presents a major opportunity for Sub Saharan companies to prosper. MMIT, Mobile Media Info Tech, a Nigerian software provider of mobile payments is an example of how Nigerian entrepreneurs and SMEs can benefit from the recent growth trends. With the significant increase in cell phone users, mobile opportunities are abundant. MMIT quickly entered the market by creating M-Wallet and M-Diaspora products.  These products allowed Nigerians to use their mobile phones to pay for products, acting as a mobile wallet, and our M-Diaspora product which allowed ex-pat Nigerians in the United States and United Kingdom to send money to friends and relatives in Nigeria. MMIT saw the opportunity and benefit of mobile payments, a technology that has revolutionized the African consumers’ lack of banking access and dependency on carrying cash.

With the overwhelming majority of the business landscape being SMEs, they are instrumental to the growth of the economy within the Sub-Saharan region. African SMEs growth and development helps create the desperately needed jobs within the formal economy which can ultimately boost economic growth and stability. Although things are looking up, reports of high unemployment rates in SSA, particularly among the youth, continues to plague the continent. The need for the creation of jobs and infrastructure is still in dire need to foster the current economic growth and to sustain it.  Therefore, it is imperative that they do not ignore these rising opportunities created by the economic growth of the past years.

Business in Africa is challenging and varies significantly from country to country which further adds to the degree of difficulty for foreign entrants. African companies have many advantages that they can capitalize especially in terms of market knowledge, understanding of consumer behavior, and realizing what innovations can revolutionize the African way of life. African companies partnering with foreign companies is another smart option for both sides of the spectrum as local African business are able to fill many of the gaps that large MNEs cannot always fill. With new economic developments and increasing incomes, consumers are demanding access to more goods more than ever before. African entrepreneurs and SMEs should seize the opportunities before the MNE’s flood gates open.

To follow MMIT please visit www.mmitonline.com and to subscribe to our monthly newsletter please contact us at newsletter@mmitonline.com


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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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Stanbic IBTC MobileMoney partners with MMIT; provides payment options for international online shopping

25 October 2013 Lagos, Nigeria – Stanbic IBTC Bank and Mobile Money Info Tech Limited, MMIT, have partnered to bring international online shopping payment options to Nigerian consumers.  Stanbic’s MobileMoney platform will be the first mobile money operator in Nigeria that offers the service of allowing consumers who do not have a credit card to pay for goods through their mobile money wallets when shopping on international app sites.

Customers who operate Stanbic IBTC Bank’s *909# MobileMoney wallets will be able to shop on international app sites such as Amazon, the Android store, Playstation, and other gaming sites. They will be given the option of making card less payments through their mobile money wallets; with this option any customer with a smart phone will be able to make purchases on these online sites regardless of where they reside in Nigeria.

Thabo Makoko, Head of E-Business at Stanbic IBTC Bank, described the partnership as another step towards financial inclusion for individuals who are usually not able to shop online because of the lack of credit and credit cards. “Mobile payments have taken a new turn in Nigeria and the days of being inconvenienced or excluded from participating in the digital economy as a result of ones inability to produce credit or debit card details for online payments are over.

“We want to provide more opportunities for the under banked in every part of Nigeria – especially the small business owners; we want to be known as the financial service partner that opens doors for our customers; empowering them to grow their businesses and lives. Removing the barriers to participating in the digital economy, the online shopping process for small business owners, youths, and the under banked will greatly reduce barriers to success in acquiring tools to improve lives”.

Jide Akindele, chief executive officer of MMIT, also commented on the partnership. “We are excited about our partnership with Stanbic IBTC Bank. We see this as a great opportunity for Stanbic IBTC mobile money subscribers who will be able to make more financial decisions.

“This partnership will make Stanbic IBTC mobile money account holders the first in Nigeria to enjoy the option of making payments on foreign online stores.”

Stanbic IBTC Bank intends to reduce the gap in access to financial services between the fully banked and under banked through the use of mobile money in every part of Nigeria. With our MobileMoney wallet the bank is getting closer to achieving this objective.

About Stanbic IBTC

Stanbic IBTC Bank is a subsidiary of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, a full service financial services group with a clear focus on three main business pillars – Corporate and Investment Banking, Personal and Business Banking and Wealth Management. Standard Bank Group, to which Stanbic IBTC Holdings belongs, is rooted in Africa with strategic representation in 18 key sub-Saharan countries and other emerging markets; Standard Bank has been in operation for 150 years and is focused on building first-class on-the-ground banks in chosen countries in Africa and connecting other selected emerging markets to Africa and to each other.

For more information visit http://www.stanbicibtcbank.com

 About MMIT

Mobile Media Info Tech Limited (MMIT) is a mobile software development company with a mission to revolutionize money transfer capabilities, mobile banking, and mobile payment processes. MMIT creates and distributes proprietary mobile technology platforms to augment ways in which mobile and web users can make financial transactions for personal and emergency purposes.

 For more information visit: www.mmitonline.com

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.

Anthony Bio for Blogs

 

 

My name is Kim Fraser and I am the Chief Operations Officer for MMIT, Mobile Media Info Tech.  We are a mobile software development company based out of Lagos, Nigeria but with offices in the US and UK.  I am Canadian by birth and citizenship and I started my career as a telecom operator in Canada for 18 years before I made the move to Africa.  I had worked briefly in East Africa in the early 90’s so I was familiar with the continent and life and business on the continent.  I was working for Nortel Networks in 2000 and was assigned to a project for Nortel based in Nigeria.  Shortly after starting work in Nigeria Nortel faced some economic hardships and I was let go. I continued to travel to Nigeria and eventually I was asked to come back to the Nigerian project as a contractor.

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Once I completed my contract in Nigeria I realized there were plenty of opportunities in the telecom space in Africa and I decided to continue working and living in Africa.  I was ready for the environment and the challenges of working and doing business in Africa. The challenges of living and working in this environment are many and varied but it is these very challenges which make living and working here so interesting. Though I admit it is likely not for everyone, if you like rolling up your sleeves and are willing to take on roles you never thought you would find your self in, it may be the right place for you.

The challenges in such an environment are quite varied from lack of infrastructure, lack of power, lack of connectivity (broadband), and transportation.  Business done in this environment has a short term mentality.  Its get what you can today as tomorrow may never come!  There is a relaxed attitude towards time and appointments, endemic corruption and so on. It takes time to get ones feet wet in such an environment, but the rewards can be quite fulfilling once one has learned to navigate the pitfalls. Most things here are never quite what they seem and it is important to understand this and realize that one need to dig deeper to understand the underlying drivers and motivations of the people one is dealing with. As they say in poker keep your cards close to your chest!

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Kim Fraser – COO MMIT

Kim will be attending the Mobile World Congress 2013 in Barcelona, Spain from February 25-28th.  Kim is available for networking and business opportunities and if you would like to contact Kim or find out more about MMIT and what we are doing in Nigeria and Africa please contact Kim at Kim.f@mmitonline.com or visit us at http://www.mmitonline.com.

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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.

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MMIT’s M-Content platform has been developed with the African Sub-Saharan market in mind. In a continent that is growing rapidly and has over 700 million mobile phone subscribers opportunities are endless.  In Nigeria there are over 16 million users of Facebook, Skype, Blackberry, Apple, and Android. In Kenya there are over 7 million users of these same devices.  On the flip side of those numbers only 24% of working age adults in Sub-Saharan Africa hold a traditional bank account with a formal financial institution and a considerably lower percentage of adults have credit or debit cards. With our M-Content platform we will be providing a way for this underserved segment to access and purchase online content and apps they wish to have on their mobiles and PCs.

Before I go further let me first describe our M-Content platform and some of the services it provides our consumers.  Our M-Content product allows consumers with a mobile money wallet, and also consumers who don’t have a mobile money wallet, to purchase content from sites like the Blackberry store, Google, Amazon, the Android store, and I Tunes to name a few and top up or apply credit on gaming and social media sites such as Facebook, EA Sports, Sony Play-Station, and Skype. It also allows consumers who want to purchase apps or apply credit on various sites to do so via their mobile phone, PC or tablet.  Our platform provides a convenient way to do this without the need to use credit or debit cards and instead utilize cash vouchers and the mobile wallet. This eliminates the risk of exposing one’s credit card or debit card on the internet or having the transaction denied due the card coming from a high risk region for fraud and opens the door to such E and M-commerce sites for larger numbers of consumers in emerging markets who do not have access to credit and debit cards.

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MMIT is aware of the possibilities and is currently at work on our M-Content platform and expects this product to be launched and live by the beginning of 2013.  We will keep you up to date on the product launch and will announce the official launch date once that decision has been made.  To learn more about MMIT, our M-Content platform, and the other products and services MMIT provides please visit our website at http://www.mmitonline.com.

A look at the predicted mobile payment growth in Nigeria

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