Dare Okoudjou, Founder and CEO of MFS Africa, has a compelling vision for the future of financial empowerment in Africa, which began with a simple desire to enable payments for his mother’s honey business and has since grown into the largest digital payments hub in Africa.
MFS Africa’s Inspirational Founder
In an exclusive interview, Okoudjou explained his motivation for developing the system: “My goal was to create a system that would make transacting business as easy as a phone call for small entrepreneurs like my mother, reaching customers across Africa.”
The dreams of all African consumers and business owners are encapsulated in Okoudjou’s plan. They want the same luxuries enjoyed by consumers all over the world, such as the ability to shop online with the assurance of speedy delivery and the absence of language barriers in financial dealings.
The Importance of Interoperability
According to Okoudjou, interoperability is where the rubber meets the road. We need to make it possible for merchants to accept payments made by mobile money or cards, online or in-store, from any customer.
According to Okoudjou, the retail industry in Africa might benefit greatly from interoperability. He mentioned that despite the global average of 15%, online retail only accounts for 1% of sales in an industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars. This indicator may become more in step with international norms and propel the industry forward if systems are made more interoperable.
Online Shopping in Africa Amid a Global Epidemic
According to Okoudjou, sales of electronic goods in Africa grew by 42% between 2019 and 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Picture the expansion possibilities when “buying and selling can be done without any friction, regardless of location or channel,” he said.
Due in large part to its explosive expansion, mobile money has dominated discussions about financial inclusion in Africa. According to the GSMA’s 2022 State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money, mobile money transactions in Africa grew by 39% in 2021, hitting $701.4 billion and accounting for 70% of the global total.
Okoudjou, however, advocates for a shift in narrative away from perceiving mobile money as a replacement for card usage and towards fostering interoperability between the two.
Interoperability must be global for the African fintech revolution to reach its full potential. Payments made by African consumers and businesses should be accepted wherever in the world. Okoudjou plans to expand mobile money’s reach by integrating it with existing card networks.
To facilitate widespread card issuance, MFS Africa signed a deal with Visa in 2019. This will allow the company’s HUB to be connected to the Visa Network. They have recently acquired the US firm GTP, setting them up to accelerate interoperability.
Reality Speeds Up
With the introduction of the Mpesa Global card in partnership with Visa, the need for interoperability is becoming increasingly apparent. Okoudjou is optimistic, saying, “We are now at the point where the dream of every mobile money user having a card attached to their mobile money accounts is a feasible reality.”
Okoudjou thinks that the financial technology revolution in Africa has barely begun. His dream of a universal, frictionless payment system holds the key to unleashing mobile money’s enormous potential and giving African consumers and business owners a huge new level of agency.
About The Author:
Thabo Matlala is a fintech journalist with Africa Nova. A finance graduate, Thabo has an eye for exciting trends and startups disrupting the traditional South African landscape.