Telkom eyes African mobile payments

Telkom could be on the verge of launching mobile payment services in South Africa.
Floris Buys, head of digital at Telkom, strongly hinted during a panel discussion at AfricaCom today that the telco is about to enter the burgeoning mobile payments market.
It’s an interesting fact that South Africa in general, and Telkom in particular, has been slow to embrace the mobile payment revolution that has swept the continent.
“South Africa is an interesting country for mobile money,” Buys says. “In Africa, it has taken off; but many have tried to launch services in Africa and failed.”
He believes one of the main reasons mobile payments have failed to take off in South Africa is the regulatory framework, which is not as conducive as in other African countries.
“In South Africa, you have to be a bank to offer banking services, so telcos have had to partner with banks. And it’s a difficult marriage.”
However, it seems the mobile payments market is on the brink of massive growth.
Ovum predicts that mobile payment users will grow from 74-million in 2015 to 413-million by 2019, and the figure is expected to pass the 100-million mark this year.
Meanwhile, the value of mobile payments will rise to $1,6-billion by 2019; and in 2016 transactions will total $200-million.
“We think the time is right,” says Buys. “Watch this space. We have a very clear strategy on how we want to enter this space.”
Buys says Telkom has been engaging on the regulatory framework, and he hints that the telco could be aiming for its own banking licence.
Telkom has already made some moves to enter the African mobile money market, and acquired a mobile payments company in Nigeria.