Fortumo makes push in Africa
The mobile payments company Fortumo today announced it has launched direct carrier billing in three new African markets, according to a company press release. More than 52 million people in Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia and Senegal can now make digital payments and have the purchases charged to their mobile phone bill. App stores, digital merchants and game developers using Fortumo can now increase their online payments reach in some of the most underbanked countries of the world.
In Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia and Senegal, the percentage of bank card owners is 2 percent. At the same time, carrier billing is available to any prepaid or postpaid mobile account owner. This means merchants using carrier billing can reach a paying audience 20 times larger than with traditional payment methods, the release stated.
"Quick economic growth coupled with access to low-cost smartphones has positioned Africa as an exciting region for digital content merchants," said Gerri Kodres, chief business officer at Fortumo. "At the same time, it has been difficult to accept payments from users as the continent is very diverse and fragmented. Carrier billing solves this challenge by allowing merchants to integrate one pervasive payment method which is accessible to any mobile phone owner regardless of their location."
The company is also seeking opportunities in new business segments such as enabling carrier billing for financial service providers.
"While traditional bank-based payments do not generally work in Africa, we are looking at collaborating with virtual credit card providers and digital wallet merchants to enable them expansion into African markets through topping up these accounts via carrier billing," Kodres said.
Fortumo covers 21 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region, with seven countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa). The company also plans to add additional markets in Africa later in 2016. In total, nearly 600 million mobile users have access to carrier billing through Fortumo in the Middle East and Africa region.
Fortumo's direct carrier billing platform allows merchants to quickly scale up their carrier billing offering by integrating payments once and launching them in all countries covered by Fortumo simultaneously, the release stated. In addition to the technical platform, Fortumo also helps merchants with business support services (such as end-user support) and negotiating new mobile operator partnerships for connectivity and promotions.
Merchants using the company's direct carrier billing platform include app stores (Google Play, Windows Phone Store), digital streaming service providers (Sony, Hooq) and game developers (Electronic Arts, Gameloft).