Evidence pops up every day across Africa that commerce could go digital in logistics and payments faster than the developed world. With physical infrastructure that still lags behind other regions, innovative enterprises are skipping many popular (and now legacy) developed-world bricks-and-mortar and landline commerce mechanisms.
Africa is fast adopting mobile technologies, which puts a lot of traditional merchant services at their fingertips just as quickly as mobile commerce solutions are being rolled out globally.
Africa's untapped potential as an ecommerce market
Many business-minded people think they know Africa, but much of our current 'understanding' is frankly wrong. For…
Here is why:
- 41% of 1.2 billion Africans is under the age of 15. All these young people will be comfortable with trial and adoption of new tech tools.
- 444 million Africans have a mobile/smartphone, in part because landline telecom infrastructure is still not widespread or reliable. Business and consumers are moving to digital and wireless phone solutions because they need to, and the price is affordable enough drive high adoption.
- Mobile wallets are becoming an accepted commerce and payments tool. Kenya reached mass adoption early because of the unique market dominance of one mobile operator, but other countries are fast catching up. mWallets are gaining trust, and therefore are providing a convenient tool for electronic payments for services.
As the article from Mobile Payments Today (linked above) asserts:
The use of such e-wallets has made it much easier for locals and non-locals alike to do business in Africa. It is much cheaper to set up an online shop than a traditional version, and in doing so merchants can now bring goods and services within reach of people in remote and previously under-served areas. This opportunity has expanded with improved logistics, which are another key feature of the new African markets.
BitMinutes focuses on one key area of friction that only Kenya has not had as a real barrier to more rapid eWallet service development: The interoperability of wallets between mobile operators. The electronic currency residing within each wallet is usuallty trapped within each operator’s ecosystem. Making the “currency” exchangeable between those eco-systems is critical. The BitMinute as a universal prepaid airtime minute that can be transferred to any mobile phone eliminates that friction and opens up even more opportunity for digital banking and commerce to explode across Africa.
Then the rest of the world will flock to Africa to find the digital tools that will drive commerce through the rest of the 21st Century!