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More Payments News: West Africa Suffers Drop in Trade – Payment Systems Blamed, and M-PESA’s New Plans For Expansion

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the bloc founded to promote cooperation and economic integration in West Africa, has reported a 10% drop in trade volumes within the region. Lawmakers in the regional parliament representing over 400 million people blamed the lack of a single currency among ECOWAS member countries and efficient payment systems as the main drivers for the overt trade deficits. Although the confusion over the introduction of the new Naira in Nigeria is also likely to have played a part.

Kenyan fintech behemoth, M-Pesa is ramping up an ambitious expansion drive to woo markets in the global North. According to Aly-Khan Satchu, Economist and CEO of the investment advisory firm Rich Management Ltd, M-Pesa is effectively targeting a two-way flow with a recently announced partnership with Amazon. The move into new markets is a natural and needed progression for M-Pesa, which has already established a strong track record of innovation and growth in Africa. At the same time, M-Pesa wants to be the platform of choice for Africans in the diaspora, sending billions back home. Last year, Africans living abroad sent $54bn back home. This approach will allow the service to build on its existing expertise and relationships while leveraging the knowledge and resources of local partners to ensure a smooth roll-out. One of the keys to M-Pesa’s success will be its ability to adapt to the unique needs and requirements of each market.

Alastair Tempest

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