Facebook explores the possibility of mobile payment collaborations in Africa

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The Vice-President of Facebook, Carolyn Everson said the social networking group is in talks with financial institutions about possible mobile-payment collaborations in Africa.

Absa partnered with Facebook’s popular WhatsApp messaging platform to launch the world’s first chat-banking service in 2018. The platform lets customers make peer-to-peer payments or pay utility bills, among other features.

Absa’s Financial Director, Jason Quinn, who spoke about the initiative said “it’s gone really well with customers”.

Everson said Facebook would consider other similar products following this “break-through case study”. He said “we’re definitely interested in helping facilitate payments, it’s more of a 2020 roadmap for us than a 2019 one, but we’re having those initial conversations with some of the larger financial services companies; we will work with local partners”.

Facebook estimated that venture-capital funding in Africa is currently worth about $1 billion a year, with 40 percent of that going into fintech.

Everson said “mobile money  is arguably one of the most exciting opportunities, given the number of unbanked citizens on the continent. We’re also seeing that the telco and fintech industries are starting to blend, more here in Africa than I see anywhere else in the world”.

He said Facebook, which also owns Instagram, saw “tremendous potential” in Africa, partly thanks to the continent’s youthful population and its growing start-up segment.

The Chief Executive Officer of MTN, Rob Shuter said by the end of 2019, MTN plans to have mobile money services in 18 of its 21 markets, including in South Africa and Nigeria. In Nigeria alone, the “addressable unbanked adult population” is between 40 million and 60 million people.

Everson said “we’re very optimistic and excited about what we see here. It will take many years, but we’re committed and we’re continuing to invest”.

In Kenya, Facebook is building a content-review centre in partnership with San Francisco-based Samasource, to help it stamp out offensive content.

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