Sequoia-Backed Wave Takes on Telcos in Africa Mobile-Money War

A few weeks ago, mobile money agents in Ivory Coast stopped providing service to Wave Mobile Money Inc. in an effort to curb the development of the budding fintech that is consuming market share throughout West Africa.

The brokers who let individuals without bank accounts store and transfer money using smartphones, known as agents, were dissatisfied with their commissions and anticipated that the suspension would significantly harm the company’s operations. Instead, in the third-largest economy in West Africa, Wave had one of its greatest weeks since going live three years ago. According to Katier Bamba, the company’s general manager for Ivory Coast, “transactions spiked for a few hours.”

The money transfer app avoided damage because Wave maintains direct ties with each agent, in contrast to telecoms firms who utilize middlemen to manage agents. That made it possible for it to carry on as normal.

The industry-changing fintech, which is five years old, has changed before. When Wave initially debuted in Senegal in 2018, it challenged the regional branch of French telecom giant Orange SA, compelling it to lower its pricing to compete.

Now, with a new e-money license at its disposal, Wave is expanding its services, becoming the first non-telco, non-bank with the ability to facilitate small-and-medium sized lending, and to issue micro-credit and virtual credit cards in eight countries in Francophone West Africa independent of a financial institution.

With this, the already intense mobile money war in the area is getting hotter.


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