Opera Software has completed the acquisition of Nigerian-based payment platform, Paycom PiDO, sources very close to the matter told BusinessDay.
Paycom PiDO, an arm of Paycom, is a platform that allows customers transfer money to both users and non-users from their mobile phones. It also allows users buy or send airtime anytime or anywhere.
According to a source who will like to remain anonymous because an official announcement is yet to be made, “Opera wants to do serious push into payments within Africa. If you recall, their report last year says Nigeria is the most mobilized country in the world. That is, it has the highest proportion of mobile internet to internet traffic.”
Mobile money is seen by many as a potential disruptor in the epayment space in Nigeria. This is in view of the growing of adoption of mobile phones and internet access in the country. Although mobile subscriber base dropped by 1.33 percent in first quarter of 2017, Nigeria still commands over 149 million subscribers representing almost 80 percent mobile penetration, according to data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
Pioneers such as Paga, which got the first license in 2011, after it was launched in 2009, have reported impressive adoption numbers like 6 million users on its platform. Paystack another mobile payment firm recently announced it has hit N1 billion in monthly transactions.
Nonetheless, as impressive as those numbers may seem, the majority sentiment among experts in the mobile payment space is that investors are yet to scratch the surface of the potential. If and when it is finally cracked, analysts project that it will engender new developments in every sector of the Nigerian economy. Already economic sectors like agriculture are beginning to witness its disruption with agritechs such as Farmcrowdy etc. Mobile is also powering the fintech landscape in the country, creating new jobs and new businesses.
Opera already own a payment platform called OperaPay or OPay which it launched late this year. OPay is a web application for buying airtime in Nigeria and Kenya. The payment app is within the Opera browser. However, users review of the OPay has not been favourable, particularly usability and customer experience of the app.
Sources in the payment space that spoke to BusinessDay said Opera’s coming into mobile money could have significant impact in respect of financial inclusion and general payments as a whole. To start with, Opera Software which recently changed ownership, could leverage on the enormous resources it currently has. The Norwegian-based company is behind the widely popular Opera Browsers that most feature phones come with. The company has more than 350 million users worldwide.
It will be recalled that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the NCC recently granted telecom operators the go-ahead to create Special-Purpose Vehicle (SPV) that would be allowed to operate mobile money.
“Everyone is of the opinion that banks and smaller players made a mess of mobile money. Banks had no incentives while smaller fintechs do not have the money for coverage or the expertise. Telcos have both,” our source said.