The mobile payments company Fortumo announced that it has launched direct carrier billing in 3 new African markets. More than 52 million people in Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia and Senegal can now make seamless digital payments and get the purchases charged to their mobile phone bill. App stores, digital merchants and game developers using Fortumo can now significantly 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 only 2%. 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 twenty times bigger than with traditional payment methods.
“Quick economic growth coupled with access to low-cost smartphones has positioned Africa as an exciting region for digital content merchants. 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,” said Gerri Kodres, Chief Business Officer at Fortumo.
The company is also keeping a keen eye out for 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,” added Kodres.
Fortumo now covers 21 countries in the Middle East & North African region, with 7 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 Eastern & African region. Additional data and insights into the region’s carrier billing ecosystem can be found from Fortumo’s market report.
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. Beside 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.
Globally, Fortumo has the largest carrier billing coverage in the industry with its payment products being available to more than 3 billion consumers in 96 countries. 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).