Mobile Payments Joins Banking in Africa

December 31, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

Granted, most don’t think of Africa when they think of technological advancement, but that’s a point that’s been changing pretty rapidly lately. This is especially true when it comes to mobile technology, a point that Africans have increasingly embraced. Mobile payments are a major part of the African lifestyle, and now, new reports suggest that mobile payments aren’t the only big advance in African finances, as mobile banking is also gaining ground.

This is especially the case, reports note, in South Africa, where several new mobile banks recently came to light in the country. Given that Africa currently accounts for half of the total world’s supply of mobile money services, and that the continent is primarily focused on mobile technology, it’s not much of a surprise to see mobile services take off in this way.

One of the biggest such moves on this front is the entity known as Bank Zero, a firm which drew some of the top brass from First National Bank, including its former CEO Michael Jordaan. Not long after its launch, Bank Zero ultimately became what is now considered the most innovative bank in Africa, complete with the country’s first mobile banking app and a slate of awards and achievements that followed.

Innovation only continues from there, including a bank sponsored by a health insurer: Discovery Bank. Discovery Bank is poised to launch in the first quarter of 2019, and is bringing a range of health incentives along for the ride. Incentives are offered for engaging in healthy behaviors as monitored by wearable health sensors. An upgrade of said sensors to the Apple Watch was one such reward, and included such things as fitness targets.

The advances seen here are impressive by most any standard. Sure, some of these are directly related to the state of technology in the country, and the fact that wired infrastructure approaches impossible in this widely-dispersed country with comparatively low population density and a whole lot of ground where no people at all can be seen. But the advances they’ve made in so little time is noteworthy in and of itself.

Africa has made a lot of advances in mobile in 2018, and 2019 shows little sign of being any different. What they come up with next should be a sight to see.