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The Nature of the African eCommerce Payments Landscape, Vertical Integration, Great Timing.

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Nature of the landscape

  • The payment landscape is made up of payment gateways, 
  • MNO’s (Safaricom with M-Pesa, Vodafone Cash, MTN Momo, Airtel Money), 
  • African bank gateways (Ecobank, UBA, Zenith, ABSA (formerly Bqrlcays), 
  • Big-tech (Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp trio, PayPal, Google Pay, Square, Alipay, Samsung Pay, Wechat Pay,) and 
  • Cards masterCard, Visa and China Unionpay.  
  • Many independent payment gateway players in each jurisdiction or region
  • There is a move towards consolidation with outside capital to achieve economies of scale 
  • and to facilitate interoperability and a single API and cross border user interface in a way that taps into the next billion consumers.  

Competing with vertical integration

  • To make it easier for the market and to achieve a higher level of adoption, 
  • there is a blurring of the lines.  
  • The payments environment is experiencing addition of payments for companies that are providing a related service like ecommerce, deliveries, 
  • and we are seeing payments companies diversifying into related services like 
    • ticketing, bookings and marketplaces. 

Timing

  • Local is well competed but it is very rough and ready.  
  • It is still an open playing field and not an exact science.  
  • There is a mad scramble to make the SSA market work from a payments perspective.  
  • There are collaborations, partnerships, horizontal and vertical integrations.  
  • It is the perfect time with an understanding of the market for payments companies to achieve scale.  
  • And in my opinion there is no clear winner yet.  
  • The opportunities, variables and challenges require 
    • a good local understanding and 
    • an adaptable, focused and resilient approach 
    • with the flexibility to to pivot at any time to adapt 
    • and meet the needs of the ecosystem and market.  

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