Applicant name: MFS Africa
Applicant type: Private Company
Headquarter City: Johannesburg
Headquarter Country: South Africa
Innovation Name: MFS Africa Hub
Innovation Type: Service
Category: Partner of the Year
Status of Innovation: In-market
Innovation Active Since: 06/01/2020
Innovation Description. MFS Africa is the largest digital payment gateway in Africa. With a wealth of experience in cross-border/platform payments, MFS Africa empowers the global and African diaspora to send/receive funds to any digital store of value in Africa: mobile money wallets, pre-paid cards and bank accounts.
Fragmentation of digital payment schemes is holding back the potential of consumers, businesses and entrepreneurs in Africa. Since its inception, MFS Africa has strived to tackle this and create a solution that provides convergence and interoperability at scale in Africa. In pursuit of this goal, the company has built the payment and settlement rails that paved the way for digital, secure and instant payments within, into, and beyond Africa. The company’s “Network of Networks” today is connecting over 400 million mobile money wallets, 200 million bank accounts and millions of pre-paid cards across 38 countries in Africa. This unparalleled reach has revolutionized the remittance landscape in Africa, unlocking access to a borderless world.
How do you describe the flexibility of your tool to customize to connect with other partners? MFS Africa’s Hub has an adaptor layer that is integrated into over 100 different payment partners spanning MNOs, banks, card schemes and other payment processors. Every partner can access our ecosystem at scale through a single API integration. Where API integrations are not possible, we build a secure connection via safe file transfer protocols. This means that whether you are an MNO interested in connecting Airtel Rwanda to MTN Ghana, or an MTO in Europe or US or Africa interested to connect to Orange Cameroon or Access bank in Nigeria, you have a plethora of integration options. Currently, our partners use intuitive and simple API documentation that covers all use cases to facilitate the onboarding process. Additionally, for MTO partners or Global Enterprises or Governmental Development Organizations (GDOs), our team is developing a self-serve onboarding portal/ platform designed to help these organisations scale in a quicker manner and simplify their integration burden.
Why should companies choose you versus your competition? As Africa’s largest payment gateway, we offer our partners interoperability of payments at scale. This means that through one single API integration, our partners gain access to over 800 bilateral corridors within, to and beyond Africa. This enables our partners to move funds in real time, in a secure, transparent, and efficient way. As our partners’ sole interface, we have simplified a multitude of payment channels and destinations and made them available via our ecosystem. To our knowledge, no other organisation can offer the same level of interoperability across over 38 African countries and with the ability to connect to multiple stores of values like MFS Africa.
In addition, we go above and beyond to delight our partners. We offer the best-in-class account management, customer and tech support, and treasury services. Our experience of working with various tech platforms enable us to resolve any technical and outage issues. Our bidirectional flows enable us to provide the most competitive FX rates and OTC treasury services.
Name your best performance. Our top performing corridor include key remittances and migration routes such as:
- Sendwave Europe to Cashplus Morroco
- IDT to MTN Cameroon
- Worldremit to MTN Cameroon
- MTN Cote d’Ivoire to MTN Benin
- Safaricom Kenya to MTN Uganda
- Moov Togo to MTN Benin
What can you do better in terms of partnership? MFS Africa’s partner and tech support experts are wholly dedicated to back-office operations including IT and support incidents. The team is available 24/7 to address any queries or tickets logged by partners. Partners can email or use the MFS Africa CRM portal to log or raise issues which provides full transparency and statistics on team member’s average response times, the number and nature of previously logged queries and tickets on the portal.
One of our core values is “Care” and we show love and care to our partners by ensuring them that any issue small or big is a priority to us. As we expand and scale our solution across different jurisdictions and use cases, we need to ensure our back-office operations scale at the same pace so that we can continue to delight our partners.
What was the inspiration for this innovation? When thinking of remittances, a quote that comes to mind is “Love always finds a way”. This statement epitomizes the strong bond between a Ghanaian woman working in Burkina Faso to provide for her family back home. Remittances have been a staple for migrants to display a sense of duty and care to their families and communities, yet the obstacles for those funds to cross the border have made this labour of love, arduous. MFS Africa is the brainchild of its Founder and CEO, Dare Okoudjou. His own experience while studying and working away from his home country of Benin left him with the inspiration that just as his previous struggles to make and receive phone calls to his family members back home had been streamlined, so could his ability to send remittances and make payments. To date, Dare continues to provide the overarching visions and advocates that transferring funds to and within across Africa should be as easy as making a phone call.
Who can benefit from your innovation most? Our target customer base is a mix. Our initial set of beneficiaries included migrants and diaspora leveraging the rails we built for efficient, fast and cost-effective remittances. Traders, gig workers and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) also rely on our cross-border rails. Our organisational commitment to revolutionising bulk disbursements from governmental development organizations (GDOs) is proving essential for aid beneficiaries. The secure and convenient digital rails that we have built also extend the reach of remittances to rural beneficiaries, smallholder farmers and women.
What are you most proud of about your innovation? At MFS Africa we are proud of the impact we are driving across African countries. The Pan-African ecosystem that we have built since 2009 and enriched through innovative approaches in recent years brings African consumers closer to each other and to the global digital economy. We are grateful for influential partners who help accelerate and expand our impact. As the continent continues to set the pace for digital financial services adoption, we look forward to expanding our footprint and partners to increase our reach to the most vulnerable and fragile communities. We are proud of the validation we have received from partners like IFAD, who awarded us with a multi-year grant to drive change in new remittance corridors in 2022. We are equally excited about our partnerships with other international organisations and humanitarian actors that we can work with to promote our mission of financial inclusion and low-cost digital remittances.
Why do you think you should win this category? We believe we should win this award because, as Africa’s largest payment gateway our footprint and commitment to improving remittance channels is unrivalled. No competitor has been able to build an interoperable African network like ours. We also have an excellent track record of driving innovation across the African remittance and payment ecosystem. In addition, we go above and beyond to delight our existing partners. For instance, MTN group is one of our long-standing partners and today we manage 95% of their intra-African remittance traffic. With competitors constantly approaching partners like MTN, we still remain their de facto partner due to the commitment we show in providing them with a best-in-class account management, customer and tech support and treasury services. Partners such as MoneyGram, WorldRemit and Sendwave continue to expand their scope of partnership with us due to this customer- centricity approach that we have adapted.
Full Name: Nika Naghavi
Role: Group Head of Growth
Full Name: Jessica Nitiema
Role: Knowledge Manager