East Africa: Ericsson Looking for a Techie to Head Its Mobile Money Business

Ericsson has opened the search for a techie to head its sub-Saharan Africa's mobile money business in Nairobi, in a reflection of Kenya's growing status as the continent's financial technology hub.

The Swedish IT firm is seeking a slice of Kenya's rapidly growing mobile money industry that facilitates the transfer of billions of shillings every day.

According to Business Daily, Ericsson plans to develop and deploy mobile-commerce applications integrating financial services offered by telecommunication companies and commercial banks.

"M-Commerce, including mobile payments and person-to-person money transfers, is identified as a high growth area in the coming years within Ericsson," the firm said in a statement.

The new venture could help Ericsson to diversify its revenue streams and cut reliance on its traditional business of developing software, hardware and infrastructure for telecommunication firms.

Ericsson said the incoming mobile financial services consultant will be expected to scout for business deals by identifying market needs, making tender bids and marketing its m-commerce solutions to clients in Kenya and the Eastern Africa region.

"He/she will lead the pre-sales practice team whose objective is to engage with customers and-- in collaboration with the accounts-- strategise around and execute upon successful m-commerce engagements, tendering and deal closure."

The company said candidates need to hold an undergraduate degree in business, engineering or ICT, and have 10 years' experience in developing and selling mobile technologies.

Ericsson said it is seeking to develop "inter-operable" and "real time" applications for the financial and telecom industries.

It has developed Ericsson M-commerce Interconnect (EMI) which acts like a global clearing house for banks and telcos undertaking international financial transactions such as remittance and mobile payment services.

"This unique service simplifies transactions between mobile wallets and or accounts and wallets and provides real time payment routing, foreign exchange, clearing and settlement, in line with regulatory rules," Ericsson said.


The Stockholm Stock Exchange-listed firm last month signed up MTN Uganda to roll out its Ericsson Converged Wallet (ECW), which combines a mobile wallet and a billing system to allow for retail payments.

The Stockholm-based company opened its Nairobi regional hub in 2006, and currently Ericsson provides equipment, software and services to Kenyan telcos including Safaricom.

Safaricom has jointly awarded Ericsson and Chinese firm Huawei a contract to build its Sh10 billion metro fibre optic cable expected to cover a length of 2,400 kilometres.

Ericsson's move to directly develop mobile finance solutions puts it in a head-to-head battle with local firms such as Craft Silicon, Sevenseas Technologies, Cellulant, Tangazoletu Ltd and Kopo Kopo, which provide solutions for mobile banking and payments.

The new mobile money unit at Ericsson local office cements Kenya's position as Africa's m-commerce hub given that Nairobi was last month picked to host MasterCard's pioneer mobile payments-focused research laboratory in Africa.

The Helix Institute of Digital Finance, a mobile money training research facility backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), set up in Nairobi in November last year.

Kenya has gained global reputation with the innovation of mobile money service M-Pesa and the mass uptake of mobile cash transactions which grossed Sh1.94 trillion in the period to October this year--which is equivalent to 41 per cent of newly rebased GDP.