How revenue will double in Africa by 2020, driven by mobile payments

2017-04-20 07:44 - Bella Genga, Bloomberg
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Android smartphone. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

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Nairobi - WorldRemit, a British money-transfer operator, sees revenue from transactions involving Africans doubling by 2020 as more people on the continent access mobile-payment platforms and expatriates send cash home.

The seven-year-old company, in which Facebook-backer Accel Partners invested $40m in 2014, will this year open a regional office in South Africa, its largest market on the continent in terms of money-transfer value, founder and CEO Ismail Ahmed said in an interview. Another site will start operating in Kenya, where the London-based business sees Africa’s highest number of individual transactions.

“In the next two years we should be doubling our volume every year,” Ahmed said in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. The continent accounted for half the company’s 2016 revenue of £41m, he said, declining to give profit figures.

WorldRemit is tapping into growing demand in Africa for mobile-payments, which are popular in places where banks are scarce or unreliable yet internet speeds are fast enough to handle finances through smartphones.

The company has partnerships with Safaricom, Kenya’s biggest company, and MTN, which are both boosting sales growth by investing in the market.

Ahmed founded WorldRemit in 2010 after struggling to send money to relatives in Africa while studying in London.

The company has since secured licenses from almost all 50 US states, which together with Latin America is its fastest-growing region in terms of transactions in part due to African expatriates, according to Ahmed.

“Kenyans in the US tend to have high paying jobs,” Ahmed said, adding that would mean higher amounts of cash sent home.

The company estimates the number of transactions made by customers worldwide will more than double to 6.7 a month by 2025. Following Accel’s investment, US private equity form Technology Crossover Ventures put in $100m two years ago.

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