TPAY Mobile to launch in Nigeria after reaching agreements with telecom operators

By David Whitehouse
Posted on Wednesday, 27 July 2022 06:00, updated on Thursday, 28 July 2022 16:12

TPAY Mobile has reached agreement with major mobile phone operators in Nigeria. REUTERS/Nyancho NwaNri

TPAY Mobile, a mobile payments platform based in the United Arab Emirates, plans to launch in Nigeria after reaching agreements with major telecoms operators in the country, chief product officer Raj Soni tells The Africa Report.

“We are ready with the carrier infrastructure,” and TPAY has invested in building technical capacity, Soni says. The Nigeria business launch is planned to take place in coming weeks.

Global merchants are trying to gain access to the Nigerian market, where the median age of the population of over 200 million people is 18 years. Amazon is reported to be planning to expand into Nigeria in 2023. According to Credolab, the country’s Internet penetration stands at 51%, but about 90% of the population has a mobile phone. About 38m adults in the country are completely financially excluded, Credolab says.

TPAY’s platform gives global merchants access to consumers in 30 countries in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey. Consumers can access digital goods and services without the need for a bank account, using pre- or post-paid accounts with telecoms providers. At the start of July, the company named Gaston Aussems as its new CEO.

Aussems says his aim as new CEO is to “completely standardise the product” to make it simpler for merchants to use.

  • He will be making changes to the organisation to place more stress on the product as opposed to technology, and will bring on board more people with global merchant expertise.
  • “It should be irrelevant where a merchant is,” he says. “It will be a product-driven organisation. That will drive scale.” The company needs to be looking at ways to scale up volumes ten-fold, he says.

Sub-Saharan strategy

Sahar Salama, who founded TPAY in 2014, remains as group chairwoman. The company’s merchant customers include the Google and Apple app stores, the Tencent gaming platform, and streaming and music services. Merchants such as Tencent want more sub-Saharan penetration but find it hard to achieve by themselves, Aussems says. “We aim to meet every merchant payment need. It’s all about enabling merchants to grow.”

TPAY, whose partners include Chinese tech giant Huawei, is majority owned by Helios Investment Partners. Middle East tech-focused venture-capital fund A15 also has a stake. Aussems is a former CEO of European payments provider Mollie, which became a unicorn in 2020.

While in Europe the payments business has become “commoditised” and has seen a “race to the bottom,” the growing African industry gives an opportunity to contribute to financial inclusion, with less than 50% of Africans having a bank account, Aussems says.

The Nigeria launch is part of a broader sub-Saharan expansion strategy.

  • Tanzania and Namibia are markets where TPAY is discussing entry with its global merchants, Aussems says.
  • South Africa, Qatar and the UAE, where the company already operates, are markets which show potential for growth, he adds.
  • Point-of-sale payments and the introduction of banking cards are product extensions that the company may consider in the future.
  • TPAY is profitable and can finance growth out of its own cashflow, with recourse to its main shareholder if needed, Aussems concludes.

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