The proliferation of smartphone has massively impacted on the business environment in Nigeria, with several mobile payment platforms jostling for the consumers' wallet. Whether making payment for utility bills or transfer of funds to friends and family, there are many mobile apps to take care of that, and Nigerians are getting used to these mobile payment systems.
While there are some old players like Interswitch with its Quickteller platform and Paga, but we'd be considering the two new comers that have shown great potentials, namely PalmPay and OPay.
The entrance of these two mobile mobile platforms is considered a good opportunity for fintech startup businesses and perhaps it will be the major reason for the disruption that is expected to happen in the banking sector.
PalmPay is headquartered in the UK, and offers packages of mobile-based financial services, which includes bill payments, rewards programs and discounted airtime purchase.
The company has just recently launched into the Nigerian market, haven raised a $40 million seed funding round led by the Chinese smartphone maker Transsion Holdings. PalmPay got the approval of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to operate as a licensed mobile money operator in July 2019 and during the pilot phase, the mobile payments venture registered about 100,000 users, with 1 million transactions processed, according to the company's spokesperson.
Its initial focus will be mainly on mobile payments, though the sector has lately become a bit crowded — with hundreds of startups already competing for Nigeria’s fintech space, looking to bring scalable mobile money solutions for the country’s financial problems.
OPay, which is an offshoot of Opera Group, also the owners of the renown mobile browser, Opera Mini, is also targeting the unbanked Nigerians and also offering bike and tricycle hailing services, along with quick loans and food delivery. OPay is sort of a super mobile app that seems to have the services every Nigeria may ever require.
The mobile payment platform, OPay is perhaps born from the acquisition of PayCom by Opera in 2017, and serves to help propel the company's vision for open, connected Internet world to build products that will remove the barriers to impede people from getting online.
Opera already boasts of facilitating the bringing of about half of Africa’s internet population online, that's out of the 464,923,169 Web users in Africa, Opera claims about 120 million people are using its mobile applications.
How OPay and PalmPay will Impact mobile payments in Nigeria
Both OPay and PalmPay have heavy backings from multinationals, and so their financial muscles are not in any doubts. PalmPay has got Visa partnership, allowing them to deliver Visa products on top of their customers' wallet, like linking their wallet to Visa products and have access to completely unbanked users with the whole of the Visa network.
While OPay already have a plethora of customers from its other services like OFood, ORide, OTrike and also the newer services, like OKash, OBus and Owealth, that are still gearing up for full operations. OPay definitely offer what people are interested in, such as ride-hailing business for Lagos commuters with government-approved bikes, buses and even tricycles, and also providing insurance cover for both the drivers and riders.
PalmPay, on the other hand, have some strategic advantage which includes Reeve’s leadership experience in Africa, Transsion’s support and network (makers of Tecno, Infinix and Itel mobile phones), and partnership with Visa.
Now, the battle line has been drawn for the leadership of the Nigerian mobile money ecosystem, and most definitely, the would-be leader will be coming from one of the above.