Fortumo launches carrier billing in Kenya

Mobile payments company Fortumo has launched carrier billing in Kenya for digital content merchants.

More than 18 million Safaricom customers from Kenya will now be able to make payments online and inside mobile apps by charging purchases to their mobile phone bill.

 “Emerging markets like Kenya have become the biggest drivers of smartphone growth globally as cheap smartphones are becoming available to millions of people in growing economies,” said Gerri Kodres, chief business officer at Fortumo. “Meanwhile, digital content merchants are struggling to generate revenue from these users due to low credit card penetration. Here Fortumo helps solve the issue for merchants by allowing any person – banked or unbanked – to make payments online through carrier billing instead.”

While overall mobile penetration in Kenya is still at around 65 per cent (approximately 27.3 million mobile phones with a population of 42 million), the market is growing very fast and already an estimated 67 per cent of all phones sold are smartphones. Meanwhile, there are only 200,000 credit cards in circulation (a 0.3 per cent penetration) making international online transactions difficult for the majority of Kenyans.

Kenya is the 3rd country covered by Fortumo carrier billing in Sub-Saharan Africa, with established connections already in place for Nigeria and South Africa. Fortumo payments are available in 15 markets in the Middle Eastern & African region. In June 2014, Fortumo also launched its billing platform in Bahrain, Iraq and Oman. With the fast growth of smartphones, Sub-Saharan Africa is also expected to become interesting for global app stores like Google Play and Microsoft Store who, due to low amount of credit cards in the region, are likely to rely heavily on carrier billing.

In addition to working with digital content merchants, Fortumo has also partnered with OEM-s like ZTE, Gionee and Oppo will be able to generate revenue from content preloaded onto the smartphones they produce for emerging markets.

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