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Thu 1 Apr 2021

Tech talk: Changing Markets,

Borderless Financial Transactions

It's one thing to talk about making borders matter less when it comes to financial transactions. But how do we make it a reality?

Enter MFS Africa's Network Operations team, led by Mxolisi Msutwana, our Chief Network Operations Officer. The team is motivated by our CEO Dare Okodjou's dream is to make cross-border payments as easy as using one's mobile phone.

“The problem that we sought to solve was one that we call interoperability. We wanted to make the ease of intra-border remittances as easy as sending an SMS,” says Msutwana.

Interoperability allows for the ease of mobile money transfers throughout the continent between different networks, without the hassle of dealing with cross-border complications.

While the telecoms industry has had many players ensuring networks can communicate across borders, sending money from different mobile networks wasn t as easy. So interoperability became our mission.

Today MFS Africa is the leading player in connecting mobile wallets in Africa, reaching nearly 320 million mobile money pockets on the continent. And Mxolisi's team handles the nuts and bolts that make that possible.

Msutwana has years of experience in the telecommunications industry on the African continent and has brought that expertise to bear on financial transactions.

“We wanted to connect different mobile money schemes together, across different markets,” he says. “We know that telcos have their own platform providers that they prefer that they use, and these platform providers use their own proprietary technology. We needed our technology to be platform agnostic so that whatever platform is used, you will be able to connect and transact through the hub.”

The Network Operations team also oversees the expansion of MFS Africa's network across Africa, allowing more mobile money users to send money through its hub of mobile operators and mobile carriers.

This means more entrepreneurs and traders who can easily send money across the border to their families and at a low cost. On a continent where remittances are a lifeline to many communities, MFS Africa knows how important this work is.

That's why we want to make our services available more widely. Already reaching nearly forty African states, MFS Africa has ambitions to reach all 54 African states and 500 million mobile money users. The Network Operations team is broadening our ecosystem of partners that make interoperability possible for millions of people.

Then there's the financial access we offer people who wouldn't otherwise have it. For example, while consumers in countries with established financial ecosystems can get streaming giant Netflix to debit their account without a second thought, that's not so easy for people in countries without that access. Through its network, MFS Africa is increasingly allowing users to use their mobile money accounts to make payments for international services like these.

 “In Kenya, we are already supporting Spotify to allow its users to use their mobile money accounts to pay for their music subscriptions,” says Msutwana. “Our goal is to open up the mobile money ecosystem to allow people to be able to transact with international merchants.”

We're also serious about protecting every user on our network.

“One of the reasons why customers process their transaction with us is the assurance that we have done anti-money-laundering and counter financing to terrorism checks,” says Msutwana. “This is done through what we call sanction screening.”

MFS Africa recognises that the future of money will inevitably be mobile. Mobile money is about so much more than sending money back and forth. It's about opportunities and access.

“Technology is really the enabler,” says Msutwana. “That's the philosophy that we apply.”