Are Bigtech Colonising African Payments - too big to fail? East vs West? Do we need to be worried?
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Are Bigtech Colonising African Payments – Too Big to Fail? East vs West? Do We Need to be Worried?

Too big to fail

Worthy of mention is the Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp trio firstly with Shopify partnership and product, and secondly a payments coin and capability.  This would be a perfect fit for the SSA market.  It ticks all the boxes:  “Each month, across sub-Saharan Africa, more than 95 million people access Facebook, with 97% on mobile.” , add Instagram’s young user match, Whatsapp’s business and consumer communication platform and a native currency that can provide a store of value and medium of exchange for consumers and business that protects them from the volatility and siloed nature of payments.  Most payments companies come from the Mac and PC environment but the Facebook trio understand mobile.  There are legal and compliance challenges and constraints but if this gets traction it will be a powerful play.

East vs West

Is this colonisation in the form of commerce and payment? You can’t mention the USA paytech global domination possibility without discussing the interests, capacity building and partnering from the East and particularly China and Chinese companies.   China and the East are very close to Africa and have been working quietly on it for many years.  Alipay and WeChatPay are the forerunners.  There is an equal chance that these two payment methods go head to head with those out of the USA.   The East seems to understand Africa and Africans better than the West.  Their mobile centric approach is more compatible with the African way and as a result, their payment methods and approach to the market is more aligned.

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