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Through the use of mobile payment options, Africans now have the ability to pay utility bills, transfer money, and pay for goods and services with the touch of a button or the swipe of a card, either at the point of sale, or from anywhere they happen to be at the moment.
The advent of mobile banking has forever changed the landscape of the East African market in particular. As millions now find it easier to hold a bank account, and merchants are able to better serve their clients by accepting payments through mobile phones, while avoiding expensive POS systems that are cost prohibitive for small businesses, unprecedented growth has taken hold.
There are a number of mobile payment options in East Africa, including:
East Africa's leading mobile network provider, Safaricom, boasts 19 million subscribers, 15 million of whom use its mobile money system, M-Pesa. M-Pesa has the distinction of being the world's most highly-developed mobile payments system, offering users the ability to use their phones to deposit, withdraw and transfer money, pay merchants, and even raise money for charities, weddings, or health emergencies.
A subsidiary of India's Airtel, Airtel Africa is a mobile service provider that operates in 17 countries across Africa, including Kenya. Airtel Africa's mobile banking service, Airtel Money, allows users to buy airtime, send money, make bill payments, preload and withdraw cash, complete bank transactions and buy from merchants, right from their phones.
Tigo is one of Tanzania's oldest and most affordable mobile service providers. Its online money service, Tigo Pesa, features free registration, and offers users the ability to pay bills, buy airtime, and withdraw, transfer or send cash from their mobile phones. Deposits can be made through local Tigo Pesa agents.
Zantel, one of Tanzania's most well-known mobile services, offers Ezy Pesa, a money service that works to provide mobile banking options to East Africa's unbanked and under banked. Ezy Pesa allows users to deposit and withdraw funds, to buy prepaid airtime, and to send money to any mobile customer.
An extra feature that may succeed well in Africa is a mobile credit-card swiping device, which works with a mobile app to allow customers to swipe their cards directly at point of sale, eliminating the need for costly and cumbersome credit card machines and POS systems. Again, in a growing market of mobile payments this solution could overtake traditional credit card payment systems.