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Betting firms gamble on soccer-mad Nigeria after fintec boost

By Reutera
Posted on Monday, 25 June 2018 14:42

World Cup fever has gripped the soccer-mad country, where some fans hoping the Super Eagles will become the first African nation to win the trophy are putting their loyalties to one side in order to place bets on other contenders.

Nigeria’s rapidly growing population of 190 million people, whose median age the United Nations estimates as being just 18, along with rising mobile phone penetration and falling data costs, presents opportunities for online retailers.

Mobile payments for years failed to take off in the same way as in east Africa, where mobile money platform M-Pesa has become ubiquitous and fostered a culture of cashless payments.

Harnessing the poularity of soccer

26-year-old Damilola Olowoyo, a storekeeper at a furniture-making factory, has been betting for over four years and spends about 3,000 naira ($8) on a weekly basis on betting. Having lost some bets last week, he has just placed another stake for 3,000 naira in hopes of getting a return of about 21,400 naira ($59).

Nigerian betting shops often act as social hubs where customers can watch soccer free of charge while placing bets.

Betting firms have benefited from the shifts while harnessing the popularity of soccer – particularly the English Premier League. Industry experts say sports betting in Nigeria generates around $1 billion a year and is likely to grow.

That growth has been matched by a rise in web payments, according to data from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), which is owned by the central bank and all licensed deposit banks in the country.

Some 14.09 million web payments worth a total of 132.36 billion naira ($367 million) were made in 2016, NIBSS said.

The number of web payments doubled in 2017, rising to 28.99 million transactions worth 184.60 billion naira ($513 million).

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