The first mobile crowdfunding platform in Africa — Orange Collecte — was launched in Ivory Coast. In partnership with French charity-giving site HelloAsso, Orange Collecte is linked to Orange's existing mobile money service, Orange Money, and allows contributors to make a donation through their Orange Money digital wallet.
In a first for Ethiopia, which has lagged behind the rest of East Africa in terms of mobile money, M-Birr is its first mobile money service, and it is now officially launching a nationwide advertising campaign, after obtaining its banking licence in December 2014.
Also in East Africa, the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) and MobiCash Rwanda have launched a new application that will enable taxpayers to pay their taxes through MobiCash.
In Southern Africa, RAINFIN, a South African peer-to-peer lender that is part-owned by Barclays, has more than doubled loans in the past year. It now aims to expand loans to small businesses by matching them with idle capital at institutions such as insurers that are pursuing higher returns than bonds. It a started a radio advertising campaign this week.
London was discussing mobile money in Africa this week. Consultant Jean-Stéphane Gourévitch said at London's fintech week that mobile money has been shown to be a successful weapon for financial inclusion, And he sees it going further than money transfer and bill paying with the development of services such as M-Shwari — a lending tool developed by Safaricom's M-PESA with Commercial Bank Of Africa.
Of course, Kenya is the big success story. However, rumbling in the background in Kenya is whether Safaricom will be forced to set up M-PESA as an independent subsidiary, as other players say that Safaricom has an unfair advantage, And there is also an ongoing spat with Equity Bank (the only bank in Kenya that is also an MNO) over Safaricom's decision to increase tariffs for bank-to-M-PESA transfers from December.
Mr Gourévitch warned that some governments in Africa, as well as banks, are still stifling mobile money development because of outdated regulations that limit the role of telcos.
There has been an east/west divide but that is now changing, with countries like Ivory Coast and Ghana in West Africa making huge strides in mobile money. Nigeria has limited the role of telcos, but last week the government announced it would loosen regulatory policy on mobile money. However, there is still concern that Nigeria won't go far enough and that telcos will be more super agents rather than real players in mobile money.
Finally, Mr Gourévitch described North Africa as a desert in terms of mobile money, with only Egypt being progressive.
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