The mobile payments company Fortumo, has has launched carrier billing in Kenya for digital content merchants. With the help of this partnership, more than 18 million Safaricom customers from Kenya will now be able to make payments online and inside mobile apps by charging purchases to their mobile phone bill.
“Emerging markets like Kenya have become the biggest drivers of smartphone growth globally as cheap smartphones are becoming available to millions of people in growing economies. Meanwhile, digital content merchants are struggling to generate revenue from these users due to low credit card penetration. Here Fortumo helps solve the issue for merchants by allowing any person – banked or unbanked – to make payments online through carrier billing instead,” said Gerri Kodres, Chief Business Officer of Fortumo.
While overall mobile penetration in Kenya is still at around 65% (approximately 27.3 million mobile phones with a population of 42 million), the market is growing very fast and already an estimated 67% of all phones sold are smartphones. Meanwhile, there are only 200 thousand credit cards in circulation (0.3% penetration) making international online transactions impossible for the majority of Kenyans.
Kenya is the 3rd country covered by Fortumo carrier billing in Sub-Saharan Africa, with established connections already in place for Nigeria and South Africa. In total, Fortumo payments are available in 15 markets in the Middle Eastern & African region.
In June 2014, Fortumo also launched its billing platform in Bahrain, Iraq and Oman. With the fast growth of smartphones, Sub-Saharan Africa is also expected to become interesting for global app stores like Google Play and Microsoft Store who (due to low amount of credit cards in the region) are likely to rely heavily on carrier billing.
In addition to working with digital content merchants, Fortumo has also partnered with OEM-s like ZTE, Gionee and Oppo who produce smartphones for emerging markets. Thanks to Fortumo’s direct carrier billing connection, these OEM-s will be able to generate revenue from content preloaded onto their smartphones.