Gemalto, a leading multinational digital security company, is looking to strengthen its influence in Africa’s mobile money markets.
The organisation, which is based in North Holland, in The Netherlands, is planning to capitalize on Africa’s ever-growing financial technology sector. In a statement issued this August, the firm expressed its interest in a number of key markets, including Kenya and South Africa.
“Africa’s digital economy will be built on mobile platforms, creating exciting opportunities for farsighted mobile operators to play a key role in the continent’s digital revolution,” said Sherry Zameer, Gemalto’s Senior Vice President for the Internet of Things (IOT) in the Commonwealth of Independent States, Middle East and Africa (CISMEA) region.
Gemalto, a global leader in digital security, recorded annual revenues of €3 billion ($3.5 billion) in 2017.
The tech company, which has customers in over 180 countries, stated that in Africa, mobile operators are becoming an important provider of and platform for a growing range of services. In 2013, the company was selected to help develop South Africa’s ‘smart’ national identification cards. Since then, the firm has also helped in developing electronic Visas and other digital tools for a number of African countries.
Gemalto now believes that Africa’s digital transformation will be driven by an expanding market of mobile phone users.
Kenya’s M-Pesa mobile money transfer service, for instance, was developed partly by Vodafone and is now an almost mandatory platform for many businesses and enterprises in the country.
Today, mobile operators across the continent are also partnering with insurers, retailers, banks and other companies to provide a growing range of innovative services to Africans.
According to an analysis dubbed the 2017 Mobile Economy Report of the GSM Association, Africa currently has 420 million unique mobile subscribers representing a 43% penetration. By 2020, the Report predicts that 500 million Africans will be mobile subscribers, making it the fastest-growing mobile market.
“Perhaps more important, smartphone connections have doubled in Sub-Saharan Africa to nearly 200 million over the past two years1,” Zameer explained.
Meanwhile, Ovum, a London-based independent consultancy, estimates that mobile broadband connections in Africa will rise from 419 million at the end of 2017 to over one billion by the end of 2022.
“In this growing ecosystem, payment solutions that are both secure and customer-friendly are of paramount importance. In particular, as mobile operators offer more and more services, identity fraud is becoming an issue. As a result, the ability to verify customer identity is becoming a business imperative for mobile operators,” said Zameer.
He argues, however, that traditional identity verification methods are subject to manual error and provide a frustrating customer experience. In contrast, a digital and automated identity verification solution can have an immediate impact on fraud reduction and even improve customer enrolment.
Zameer states that Gemalto has the tools needed to meet this demand and is keen to provide it to countries in Africa that desperately need it.
“A powerful digital identity verification solution that is automated and integrated into the business process brings a new dimension to customer identity management,” he said.
He added that Gemalto’s expertise in these fields will help in reducing fraud, streamlining customer acquisition, providing better customer support and creating new opportunities through digital services.
“Mobile operators have the opportunity to position themselves as trusted digital identity aggregators by validating the subscriber’s identity. This could then lead to further opportunities in complementary markets that require identity verification, from online gaming and banking to car rental. The opportunities in the public and private sector are legion,” he explained.
“Solutions that streamline identity verification, and protect customers’ identities, are hugely valued by both customers and businesses. Finding the right balance between accuracy and tolerance for user convenience is critical in this field,” he said.
Mobile operators in Africa that adopt the technology now will see immediate benefits in terms of efficiency and customer service-but, in the long term, they will position themselves as pivots within the digital ecosystems built on mobile platforms, Zameer concluded.