E-commerce payment systems in Africa are a bit of a Wild-Wild-West of sorts. Finding the one e-payment platform that actually works as advertised is akin to prospecting for gold. Some platforms just don’t pan out. Others are often out of your reach and all you can do is admire the likes of PayPal and Google Wallet. All we have are e-payment hacks and roundabout workarounds.
Shopping at online shops is well and good but the issue arises when it’s time to pay when you realise you don’t have the proffered payment options such as PayPal, or Google Wallet. You got no Visa or Mastercard either and our local champion Mobile Money isn’t an option yet. While Visa and Mastercard is all the rage in the Americas and Europe, it just never took off at this neck of the woods. And banks are a tad off-putting with their insistence on old-school over-the-counter transactions. And the best their mobile apps can do is check account balance.
Well now a San-Francisco and Nigerian-based online payment platform, Flutterwave has touched base in East Africa. Flutterwave was founded by Nigeria’s Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, the name behind Mark Zuckerberg-backed Andela which churns out software developers by the dozen.
Flutterwave which hitherto had been operational in West African countries, Nigeria and Ghana, and now wants to have a go at 9 other countries, starting with Kenya. Flutterwave has partnered with KCB Bank, Kenya’s biggest bank by client-base with branches across East Africa. Under the partnership, Flutterwave will rollout at all KCB branches in the region. Flutterwave platforms will comprise MPesa, Visa, MasterCard, Airtel, MTN, Etisalat, Bank-to-Bank, e.t.c.
Quotable: Flutterwave is building digital payments infrastructure accessible via APIs that enable all available payment options across different African countries. Our API allows businesses accept and disburse payments from MasterCard, Visa, Verve, Mobile Money, ACH — and even cash tokens and e-wallets in different African countries by integrating one API. Our technology will enable the next generation of technology leaders in Africa to launch and support businesses that will scale — not only across Africa, but across the U.S. and other major international markets. ~ Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Flutterwave : Building the Future of Payments in Africa
Flutterwave powers the e-payments infrastructure to enable merchants, customers, mobile money operators, banks with credit card systems, e.t.c to seamlessly make monetary transactions across Africa and the rest of the world. The Fintech platform can run via Web, Mobile, ATM and any Point of Sale (POS) in over 150 currencies and destinations worldwide.
According to the Flutterwave website, payments including bills and airtime purchase can be sent to over 100 million cards, 135 million bank accounts and 80 million mobile money wallets across Africa from anywhere in the world. And to reassure whoever is in doubt, Flutterwave did go through an incubation phase with Y-Combinator, one of the most prestigious startup incubators/seed accelerators, based in Mountain View, California.
And according to Tech Crunch, Flutterwave has already processed $20 million in payments over the last three months at 0.3% processing fee. The company has also doubled its payment volume of over $360 billion yearly mobile payments. Africa has over 276 wallets, 500 banks and 7 card networks which Flutterwave wants to streamline with one API.
Flutterwave vs mVisa
It is interesting to note that only recently, Visa Inc. launched mVisa mobile money service in partnership with KCB and other Kenyan banks. To an average person, mVisa is fundamentally no different from Flutterwave. Both process money transactions and both handle customer/merchant or person/person. Both platforms offer interoperability and both have an international reach. For this reason, we are not yet certain whether the two platforms will work seamlessly. What is even more interesting is that the same bank has signed on both platforms. Will KCB have to boot out one for other?
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