TechCrunch reports that the problem the team aims to solve is plain to see, explained Moneywave CEO Iyinoluwa Aboyeji in an interview — there’s just no universally used and accepted payment system over there.
“The ecosystem for payments in Africa is heavily fragmented,” he said. “Anywhere in the west, you’re able to leverage your credit card to pay and get paid. If I’m a small business in Nigeria, I can’t accept cards, the overhead will kill me!”
Bank accounts, while common, are often empty, and merchants are frequently informal and not actual incorporated businesses, limiting the services banks will provide. As a consequence, card transactions make up less than one percent of the billion dollars or so changing hands digitally every day.
Cash is common, and more than a few person-to-person payment systems, like the popular mPesa in Kenya, have arisen to fill the gap — but fluidity is still a problem. Transactions can take days, and fees are common when transferring or withdrawing money. And there’s no guarantee that a merchant will be compatible with the service or bank in question — mPesa is barely used in Nigeria, for instance.
“What we’re trying to do is remove the barriers between these payment instruments and channels, Aboyeji said. “If what you have is mPesa, you should be able to pay into someone’s bank account. You can charge people’s cards. You can accept payments via a link on Instagram.”