Nov 2013

Mobile Payments in East Africa: The World is Watching

Some of the largest companies in the world, including Google, Ericsson, Visa, and MasterCard, are converging on East Africa. Their intent, in part, is to find their place in one of the most disruptive payments ecosystems on earth. Since its public launch in Kenya in 2007, M-PESA is now serving over 70% of the adult population and moving equivalent of over 30% of the country’s recorded GDP. Companies, both large and small, see services like M-PESA as unparalleled opportunities.

Here at Kopo Kopo, we are active in three East African markets and have been watching these regional developments closely. Of note, MasterCard and Visa have made significant investments in both traditional card acceptance and in new form factors, such as NFC and USSD. Google and PayPal have launched services as well, both in partnership with Equity Bank. Global technology vendors Ericsson and Huawei have secured contracts to replace the platforms behind MTN Mobile Money and Safaricom M-PESA respectively.

The infographic below (PDF here) visualizes some of these developments. What’s clear is that the rapid pace of change is accelerating, and more global players are getting involved. As a result, the industry will mature as each player claims its niche and retrenches its position. We also anticipate strong pushes from traditional players in 2014.

(See high-resolution version)

This infographic is by no means exhaustive – it’s just the tip of the iceberg. To get a sense for how many players are active in the region, here’s a link to NaiPay’s directory of over 100 services. The world is now watching as East Africa overturns traditional payment models, and we will be there every step of the way.


– Team Kopo Kopo (@KopoKopoInc)

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