Economic growth in the East Africa region is estimated to remain at a steady 5.9% in 2019, a significantly higher percentage than North Africa at 4.9% and Southern Africa at 1.2%, according to the African Development Bank. The countries with the highest economic growth include Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania, with the service sector the primary driver of growth for the latter two. For this reason, PayU has been a licensed operator in Kenya since February 2019 and launched robust payment services for the region. Kenya, as the power hub for East Africa is superbly positioned for expansion into the rest of Africa.
“Kenya is a powerful and growing market, ideally suited for investment and expansion for high velocity merchants.” says Corrie Bakker, Head of Strategy & Business Development, PayU Africa. “With our global, long-standing reputation, and local presence in the Kenyan market, we provide organisations with a doorway into East Africa that’s built on the foundations of long-standing relationships and local expertise.”
PayU’s successful Kenyan operation has been approved by the Central Bank of Kenya, cementing its standing and local approval. The launch of PayU in Kenya provides organisations with on-the-ground local liaisons, strong relationships, improved stability and reduced downtime, and localised customer support. With PayU Kenya, users are able to transact in volume at the approval rates certified by PayU, and are assured of robust, ongoing security.
“Working with us in Kenya not only opens the door to Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda – countries that have shown real GDP growth – but provides our partners with the first line of local defence with people on the ground,” says Bakker. “We provide a new set of credentials and a tokenised anti-fraud offering with a re-occurring option that assures merchants of strong security and peace of mind.”
In addition to strong economic growth prospects and a growing middle class, Kenya’s payment market is dominated by mobile transactions. More than 80% of payments take place over mobile wallets with M-PESA remaining the dominant provider of choice, closely followed by card payments, then EFT. PayU provides a single, integrated transaction point that embeds these payment preferences into a central ecosystem, making it simple and accessible for merchant and customer alike. To complement the localised offering in Kenya, PayU has formulated a key partnership with Cellulant to ensure hyper-localization and payment method expansion.
The Cellulant corporation develops and provides a one-stop mobile payments platform for connecting businesses and governments in Africa. It offers consumer payments, digital and neighbourhood agency banking and remittance solutions. Some of the services offered by Cellulant include Mula, Agrikore, and Tingg.
“We have one integrated transaction point that recognises what customers want,” adds Bakker. “Ensuring that customers can access their funds using known, locally respected payment solutions, mitigates challenges around customer trust and accessibility. This is further enhanced by our global presence, our reputation as a reliable, stable and secure payment platform, and our ongoing acquisitions into products and services that enhance our offering.”
PayU recently cemented the $70 million acquisition of Wibmo, a US-based startup with operations in India that offers payment processing services across risk, fraud, authentication, mobile payments and more. Wibmo adds additional strategic services and capabilities to the PayU stable alongside Citrus (acquired for $130 million 2016), PaySense and Zest Money – the latter two forming part of PayU’s investment strategy. The company has also invested into Creditas, LazyPay, Remitly and acquired Zooz – an Israeli payment technology provider.
“Each of these acquisitions and investments allows us to future-proof PayU and the services it can offer to merchant and customer alike,” concludes Bakker. “Already, we have surpassed the $500 million mark for our total fintech investment, making us one of the top five leading global fintech investors in the world.”
This commitment to strategic fintech investment and innovation underpins PayU’s move into Kenya and the East African region. It cements PayU’s focus on driving growth and development in emerging markets, assures clients of local support and expertise within the region, and provides a stepping stone into the thriving growth markets that are rising in East Africa.