BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY)’s BBM Mobile Payments Coming To Africa


Blackberry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY), the Canadian global mobile communications leader, has announced its intentions to extend its mobile payment option to Africa, starting with Nigeria, then South Africa.

Blackberry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) first launched its mobile payment program in June 2014 in Canada with a 3-year deal with EnStream, a joint venture by the three largest wireless service providers in Canada, which gave it access to the credit card details of smartphone users, enabling them to inter-connect them and banks. Later in August 2015, Blackberry introduced BBM Money to BBM users in Canada; that is mobile payment through PayPal.

Yesterday, 30th November 2015, Matthew Talbot, Blackberry’s senior VP for Emerging Solutions wrote in a blog, “we’re excited to announce we’ll be expanding our mobile money initiatives into Africa, commencing in Nigeria. Blackberry has partnered with Interswitch Ltd, Nigeria’s largest payment processor, to enable any Nigerian to transfer money or airtime within BBM as simply as they transfer photos or files.”

He also reported that as a separate program, Blackberry would also expand the BBM Shop payment options soon. It will include Firstmonie mobile wallet, the mobile payment initiative by First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Ltd, the largest bank in Nigeria. They will also partner with Mobile Media Info Tech (MMIT) in the bid to make changes to and secure the payments to the BBM Shop.

Although Blackberry’s reach has reduced from how it was in the early 2000s when it was first introduced, the company reports more than half a million new users of BBM, almost 10 million visits and over 20 million views to the BBM Shop in Africa, as well as “over 26 million ad requests” daily in Nigeria and South Africa; 60 million stickers have been reportedly transferred there, too (25-sticker packs were made especially for Africa).

These figures make the two emerging economies two of Blackberry’s biggest global opportunities. Blackberry mobile payment initiative is already operational in Southeast Asia where they compete with others like Line, WeChat (now also in South Africa), and Kakao Talk.

The extension of mobile payments via BBM to BBM users in Africa will strengthen Blackberry’s hold on the African mobile space considerably. The BBM mobile money in Africa has the potential to become as large as that of Indonesia which has a teeming population of 250 million people.

Nigeria has a population of over 183 million (the largest in Africa) while South Africa’s population is just over 53 million. When it comes to the mobile markets, it is a game of numbers!