Sunday, August 18, 2019
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Facebook to Start Mobile Payments in Africa

Facebook has started engaging financial institutions in Africa about possible mobile-payment collaborations, says Carolyn Everson, a vice-president at the social networking group.

In 2018, Absa partnered with Facebook’s popular WhatsApp messaging platform to launch the world’s first chat-banking service. The platform lets customers make peer-to-peer payments or pay utility bills, among other features. After a successful partnership with Absa, Facebook is looking forward to other similar products.

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

“Mobile money is arguably one of the most exciting opportunities, given the number of unbanked citizens on the continent. We are also witnessing a lot of exciting collaboration between telcos and fintechs ” Everson said.

By the end of 2019, MTN plans to have mobile money services in 18 of its 21 markets, including in SA and Nigeria. In Nigeria alone, the “addressable unbanked adult population” is between 40-million and 60-million people, MTN CEO Rob Shuter said last week.

Everson 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. “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.

Said Everson: “We will have about 100 content reviewers in Kenya to start us off, but I fully expect that to grow over time. This is the start of our local investment here on the continent.”

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