Russell Southwood
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Mobile money
From transferring cash by SMS to a digital payments ecosystem (2000–20)
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This chapter describes how sub-Saharan Africans used airtime transfer to send cash to each other; the way in which this was noticed and used to create early, unsuccessful mobile money services; how the United Kingdom government’s the Department for International Development helped to finance M-Pesa; the unsuccessful early roll-outs of mobile money in West Africa and why they failed; and the hurdles mobile money start-up Paga faced when launching in Nigeria. Mobile money has enabled national, regional and international transactions as well developing a wide range of payment services (for example, loans, insurance and social payments). All of these have come together to create a developing payment ecosystem. The chapter concludes by looking at the future of mobile money and how industry ‘collision’ – where, for example, a mobile operator becomes a bank or a social media platform adds a payment facility – will play a part.

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Africa 2.0

Inside a continent’s communications revolution


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