Last week, Cellulant announced its partnership with Adyen – a global payments company and Europe’s fastest growing Dutch-based fintech unicorn to enable global merchants to accept key local payments in key markets starting with Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana and Uganda. This is Cellulant’s second integration partnership with a global payments player following a deal with PayU – a fintech company also based in the Netherlands to connect their customers to digital payments in Kenya.
Whereas Africa has lagged behind in credit card usage and acceptance, the continent has become the world leader in mobile money payments with mobile money becoming the fastest growing mobile market in the world and the most widely used form of cashless payment across the region.
This article explores why these recent partnerships with Adyen and Payu are game changers in the payments space and what it means for global business and retail brands that; already have a presence, or have been eyeing Africa as the next expansion frontier.
Why Adyen and PayU?
Adyen and PayU are online payment platforms that enable businesses to organise and process their payments from customers via different channels.
Adyen was founded in 2006 and has a current valuation of $22 billion. According to Quartz Africa, Adyen’s market capitalization surged by almost 50% to put it at par with Stripe- a Silicon Valley-based payments technology company.
Adyen processes payments for some of the world’s leading internet and technology companies as well are global retail brands such as eBay, Facebook, Uber, Spotify, Dropbox, KLM, Airbnb, L’Oreal, Netflix just to name a few, most of which, have set up operations in at least 3 of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.
PayU was founded in 2002 and is now a Naspers owned payments company with operations in 17 markets across Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. This year, PayU became one of the top five leading global fintech investors in the world after acquiring Wibmo, a U.S.-based payment processing start-up with operations in India in April adding to its investment portfolio of six other payment technology startups.
In 2018, PayU set its eyes on Africa with plans to seek out partnerships and/or collaborations to leverage the opportunity in cross-border payments.
These companies, like Cellulant, offer a unified platform that provides one integration to their merchants to operate smoothly eliminating boundaries across channels and geographies. Collaboration & partnerships are the future for Fintech. To quote the words of the PayU CEO, Laurent le Moal;
“It is not necessarily easy for any fintech company to take an operation developed for one jurisdiction and simply replicate it elsewhere in the world – no matter how compelling the offer. There is often a need to partner in Fintech.”
Credit Card vs mobile money usage
According to the 2018 Payments Industry Report (pdf), Africa has the lowest global card penetration at 20% compared to other forms of payment.
Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) like many other emerging markets has a very low card payment usage owing to a higher rural population. According to a 2015 research report by Lafferty, credit card penetration remains extremely low across most of the continent with the one exception being South Africa. The same report notes that there were an estimated 17 million cards in issue at the end of 2015, up from ten million in 2009. South Africa alone accounts for 68 per cent of these cards, meaning that the regional trend is heavily influenced by that market. In Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, there are fewer than two million credit cards in circulation, although growth in card numbers has averaged over 30 per cent per annum since 2009.
Where Africa is lugging in card payments, it’s blazing the trail as the fastest growing mobile market.
According to the 2017 State of Industry Report on Mobile Money by GSMA, mobile money is now available in 90 countries as the innovation spreads beyond its East African stronghold with West and Middle Africa experiencing tremendous growth in the number of registered mobile money accounts in countries such as Ghana and Cameroon. The GSMA report notes that 66% of the combined adult population in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda use mobile money on an active basis.
What does this mean for global Adyen and PayU merchants who operate in any of the markets where Cellulant has a payment gateway integration?
This deal increases Adyen’s & PayU’s payment capability to its global merchants who can now accept key local payment methods in major African markets where Cellulant has a presence. Cellulant is currently in 11 markets with a growth expansion strategy in place following their last round of funding, the biggest by a Fintech in Africa.
Global merchants with presence in Sub-Saharan Africa
With just a single contract and a single integration, Adyen and PayU merchants with business interests in Sub-Saharan Africa can now accept mobile payments directly as well as several online and mobile banking payment methods by doing a direct bank pay option without additional integrations or contracts with third parties.
Brands such as Uber, Airbnb and Netflix which continue to experience exponential growth in various African markets have in the past, had to change their business approach due to local payment nuances. In the case of Uber, they had to accept cash as most debit cards issued by local banks could not work. Accepting cash for a business like Uber can often be a rigorous process for them and a safety concern for their drivers.
By partnering with Cellulant the processor of over 12% of Africa’s digital payments, Adyen and PayU will have access to 40 mobile money operators, over 600 local & international merchants and over 120 banks in Africa with just a single integration to Cellulant’s payment platform. This partnership will provide these global payments processor with further access to a potential addressable consumer base of over 220M who use either debit/credit card, mobile money or mobile banking payment options.
To put this in context, it takes an average of anywhere between 3 – 9 months for a single integration with a mobile money operator in the region due to the negotiations and contractual red tape whereas the actual technical integration takes between 10-15 days. The sheer amount of paperwork, negotiations and time deter most global merchants who have realized that accepting mobile payments in the region an absolute necessity.
Global Brands seeking expansion into Emerging Markets
Africa, with a population of 1.2B, is one of the fastest growing consumer markets in the world with consumer expenditure growing at a compound annual rate of 3.9 per cent since 2010 to reach $1.4 trillion in 2015. This figure is expected to reach $2.1 trillion by 2025 according to a report by Brookings Institution on Africa’s consumer market potential.
Additionally, seven of the 20 fastest-growing economies in the world are African countries. The African Development Bank estimates that the continent will have the largest working-age population in the world by 2050.
This is the right time for global businesses to be looking at Africa which is currently enjoying a significant surge in the outside investment and overall consumer spending which is set to rise to $1.4tr in 2020 according to McKinsey Global Institute. A report by Fraym -a geospatial data company indicates that 20 countries account for 95% of the African consumer class with Lagos, Nigeria’s fast-growing commercial as the 2nd after Cairo with the largest consumer segment of 9 million consumers who can afford premium products.
The irresistible value proposition from this deal to the growing African consumer segment is that they can now shop Internationally but pay locally.
About the Writer
Njeri Wangarĩ- Wanjohi is a Kenyan based writer & digital marketer whose interest and work lies at the intersection of technology, new media, arts & culture in Africa.