Robust Payments Will Help Africa Join the ‘Sharing Economy Party’

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“It always seems impossible until it is done.”- Nelson Mandela

I cannot think of a more appropriate quote as I write this. Recently, we saw more exciting evidence that the sharing economy is breathing life into emerging economies, as Airbnb announced its growth plan for a continent teeming with social and economic potential.

Airbnb, the giant sharing economy platform that allows anyone to rent accommodations from locals in 190+ countries, is booking rooms on a scale comparable to the largest hotel chains in the world – all without owning a single property. Just recently, Airbnb announced its entry into Africa. Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO, apparently cannot ignore the stupendous growth in Africa. With Airbnb listings in South Africa growing at 138 percent a year, Airbnb surely has its eye on a booming tourism sector set to grow at 4.9%, accounting for nearly 9% of the continent’s GDP.

Other elements of the on-demand economy ecosystem are also positioned for explosive growth in Africa. One big issue has been that progress in Africa hasn’t been inclusive – but the time is ripe to let all Africans join the party. The social and economic potential that this has for Africa will be groundbreaking and we at Transpay are closely working one important issue in this spectrum – financial inclusion. All of the current digital advancements positioned to grow in Africa will require a robust financial system  that include cross-border payment enablers, direct bank deposits, electronic payments and even cash pickup.

Transpay leverages the Transfast bank network, which just made a huge step forward in Africa and continues to grow rapidly. Our proprietary bank network now reaches into 23 African nations – the most extensive, efficient and cost-effective of its kind on the continent. Transpay now enables payers in the U.S. and Canada, and soon from the U.K. and EU, to pay directly into recipients’ bank accounts at nearly 600 banks or to 6,000 cash pick-up locations inside banks in Africa. Our bank network covers up to 90 percent of adult bank account holders in 23 nations in Africa, including Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and more.

Imagine if large payment-sending portals like Airbnb could reach Africans in the most efficient way possible — direct to bank, with the greatest value, speed and transparency. Now imagine an Airbnb lister in Africa getting her payment via bank deposit within a day — sometimes instantly — or via cash, delivered in minutes to one of 6,000 locations.

Africa is poised to have millions of its citizens participate in the financial system and leverage their skills for productivity through online platforms.  They can access better pay, build savings, expand business, invest in education, manage risk and absorb financial shocks. Truly an exciting future for the continent. And, Africa, we are ready.

By Nagarajan Rao, senior vice president, Transpay. Rao is a specialist in the high-volume, low-value payments industry. He works daily with SMBs and growth companies to create mass payments solutions. At Transpay, Rao has overseen the development of a robust, end-to-end payment platform that allows crowdsourcing businesses and other organizations to easily plug into the company’s self-owned global banking network, offering both white-labeled and branded mass payments options. Rao and his team work regularly with crowdsourcing companies and online marketplaces, including Upwork, Zooppa, InnoCentive and a multitude of other clients.

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