MEA Fintech Weekly News: The Case for Mobile Money in Sub-Saharan Africa

MEA Fintech Weekly News: The Case for Mobile Money in Sub-Saharan Africa

In last week’s MEA fintech news, mobile money took centre stage once again in the African continent. Meanwhile, UAE sees some funding and M&A activity, Egyptian banks launch a fintech fund, and a Nigerian startup raises US$10 million.

Mobile money continues to pioneer payments in sub-Saharan Africa

Mobile money is a driving force behind the growth of Africa’s fintech space, and especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Mobile money accounts in the region have grown 11x between 2011 and 2020, accounting for over half of the world’s 310 live mobile money services.

Moreover, at least 11 countries in the region feature five or more deployed mobile money services.

The continent was one of the earliest adopters and innovators of mobile money, with a mobile penetration of 80% (although internet penetration only stands at 36%), according to a 2019 report by Financial Technology Partners. P2P transfers remained the most popular application of mobile money in Africa.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s 57% unbanked population represents a vast market for telecom operators and their financial institution partners. In 2020, 64% of the US$2.1 billion daily mobile money transactions came from sub-Saharan Africa.

Further, nearly half of the world’s registered mobile money customers are based in sub-Saharan Africa, the report noted, accounting for 70% of global mobile money transactions in 2018.

Apart from high mobile penetration, the report said that the privatisation of telecoms in Africa, and regulatory frameworks that allowed telecom companies to innovate, largely influenced the mobile money boom in the continent.

Safaricom, a Vodafone Kenya subsidiary, largely dominates this space through its M-Pesa solution, which had about 30 million registered users in 2017. As of 2021, this figure stood at 48 million registered users.

Other successful mobile money players include Airtel Money, MTN Mobile Money, Orange Money and Tigo Money. Latest entrants include startups Wave and pawaPay as well.

MEA Fintech News Highlights


UAE-based social commerce and payments platform Zbooni closes Series A at US$9.5 million (Fintech News Middle East).

Global paytech company Global Processing Services officially launches MENA operations with headquarters in Dubai (Fintech News Middle East).

Dubai challenger bank Yap launches virtual card (Gulf Business).

Cloud fintech solutions provider Cornerstone expands to the Middle East with Dubai office (company announcement).

US-based cloud and SaaS company Cloud Klair acquires UAE insurtech startup Sehteq (Waya).

MasterCard and Lulu Exchange partner to provide no additional ‘merchant transaction fees’ for UAE users (Khaleej Times).

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia-based IT firm MIS launches a fintech subsidiary in Riyadh (Arab News).



Bahrain’s Bank ABC launches digital client onboarding using Fenergo’s cloud native solution (company announcement).

Citi launches first global technology hub in Bahrain in partnership with government-backed Tamkeen and the Bahrain Economic Development Board (Khaleej Times).


Oman Arab Bank announces a new iSend remittance service based on MasterCard’s remittance solution MasterCard Send (company announcement).


Kenbi launches an advanced AI platform in Israel (Fintech Futures).



Pakistani women-focused savings fintech startup Oraan raises US$3 million (TechCrunch).



Three Egyptian banks to launch a fintech fund of EGP 1 billion next month (Fintech News Middle East).

Egypt-based digital auto auction solutions provider Sa3ar Technology Solutions acquired by automotive marketplace Contactcars (Disrupt Africa).

The Central Bank of Egypt approves merchant licenses for contactless payments from mobile phones (Pymnts).



Nigerian B2B payments startup Verto raises US$10 million in a Series A round (Fintech News Africa).

Flutterwave announces partnership with Nigeria’s first payment service bank, 9PSB (company announcement).

south africa

South Africa

Mobility fintech startup Moove expands to Cape Town (Venture Burn).

Regional news

API infrastructure company M2P Solutions and Canadian payment solutions provider Buckzy Payments partner to provide cross-border payments in MENA (Fintech News Middle East).

Crypto exchange Yellow Card raises US$15 million in its Series A round (Fintech News Africa).

Yo-Uganda partners with the United States African Development Foundation to launch the MasterCard Farmer Network, a digital agriculture solution (Fintech News Africa).

China’s UnionPay International and Morocco-headquartered S2M announce partnership to provide digital payment solutions in Africa (Pymnts).

SME banking startup Stryve (Egypt), insurtech startup Ahmini (Tunisia) and SME crowdfunding platform Sendo (Egypt) win the Arab Financial Inclusion Innovation Prize 2021 (Fintech Times).

Recommended Reading

“The wider GCC region is pushing for economic diversification and an ever so slight shift to a more open economy than before. In this context, technology has asserted its dominance, especially in the space of banking and financial services. As the Middle East fintech ecosystem broadens, a number of trends have emerged as potentially winning bets…” Read more about the 7 fastest-growing Middle East fintech trends.

“The top fintech hubs in Africa – South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt – were also those that had comparatively stronger financial regulatory ecosystems. These four countries attracted 80% fintech funding last year. In countries beyond these hubs, where fintech regulation does not exist, the absence of regulations exposes both users and fintech service providers to risks, keeping investors at bay…” Find out how Africa’s top fintech hubs are also its most regulated.

That’s it for the week’s MEA fintech news. Subscribe to our Middle East and Africa newsletters to continue receiving the top MEA fintech news in your inbox.

This article was originally published on Fintech News Africa.

Featured image: edited from Unsplash

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