Imagine a fashion influencer with millions of YouTube subscribers who is trying to monetize her online content and at the same time purchase a Spotify subscription to download the latest hit Rihanna song.
Normally, the individual’s location would be irrelevant to completing the process, and all she would need to complete the transaction is her phone.
But according to Dare Okoudjou, depending on whether she’s in Amsterdam or in Lusaka, Zambia, the ability to make seamless international payments will differ greatly, with hundreds of millions of Africa-based consumers receiving the short end of the stick.
MFS Africa exists to correct this imbalance, Okoudjou, founder and CEO of MFS Africa, told PYMNTS in an interview, pointing to the fact that no one should be constrained because of where they are located.
To achieve this, the Pan-African company, which reaches over 400 million mobile money wallets across 27 African countries, recently announced the acquisition of U.S. FinTech Global Technology Partners (GTP) to provide access to global companies like Netflix and Amazon that millions in Africa have lacked the card credentials to transact with online.
Through this deal, consumers and merchants in the region who store money on mobile phones or on digital wallets can now obtain a prepaid virtual card to make seamless card payments to these global companies that have evaded them for years.
The goal is to build on the widely used mobile wallet solution, which he said is going to be the most common form of current account in Africa, by leveraging the GTP acquisition to easily add credentials to these accounts.
“[That way] if I need to subscribe to Netflix, Netflix does not need to do the hard work of accepting or adapting the user interface to accept mobile money. I can simply put my Visa or MasterCard credentials and MFS Africa acting as the issuing bank can authorize this transaction and debit the money,” he explained.
The FinTech firm has also recently worked with Spotify to localize the offering of the streaming company and help them to accept mobile payments from Kenya, Uganda and South Africa using MFS Africa’s infrastructure.
Africa to the World, the World to Africa
In 2019, MFS Africa became the first non-bank financial institution to connect to the Visa network, distributing Visa payment credentials to consumers and businesses across multiple African markets.
But according to Okoudjou, moving as a non-bank across Africa to become an issuer at scale was quite difficult to implement, which is what led the Africa-focused firm to acquire GTP.
Moreover, while Visa was able to grant access to its network, the company still needed a processor to facilitate the transactions, which is another reason why purchasing GTP was important to bolster their ability to process both Visa and Mastercard payments, he explained further.
Moving forward, Okoudjou anticipates that more and more payment solutions that facilitate the steady flow of currency in and out of mobile wallets will emerge, driving an uptake in cross-border transactions not just within Africa, but also help connect “Africa to the world or the world to Africa.”
Turkey, for example, is one of such countries with increasing growth in cross-border transactions, he remarked, adding that the amount of demand they receive from people who want to make payments to Turkey is staggering due to the country’s extensive trade links with several other countries. “Turkey is almost becoming a new Dubai for many Africans,” he said.
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