Music streamers turn to telcos to make Africa pay By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A dealer is mirrored in a pc display displaying the Spotify model earlier than the corporate begins promoting as a direct itemizing on the ground of the New York Inventory Alternate in New York, U.S., April 3, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson


By Nqobile Dludla and Supantha Mukherjee

JOHANNESBURG/STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -Africa, with its internationally recognised musical expertise – and rising cell phone use – is central to Swedish music streamer Spotify (NYSE:)’s plans to increase its attain to a billion clients.

As African artists comparable to Nigeria’s Burna Boy and South Africa’s Black Espresso are streamed internationally, the continent was seen as an apparent selection and is the house to greater than a 3rd of the corporate’s 85 new markets.

The issue is fee on a continent the place many individuals usually tend to have a cell phone than a checking account.

Which means Spotify’s first job because it implements a plan introduced in February to nearly double its footprint is to win over the telecom corporations that usually equate to banks.

Phiona Okumu, Spotify’s head of music for Sub-Saharan Africa, informed Reuters the corporate secured “various fee strategies”, specifically M-Pesa, when it moved into Kenya in February.

Owned by Kenya’s largest telecoms operator, Safaricom, M-Pesa is used to ship cash, save, borrow and make funds for items and companies.

“A variety of African nations are unbanked so meaning they do not use bank cards and that is very true for lots of east African (nations) and in Kenya you employ M-Pesa for probably the most half,” Okumu mentioned. Elsewhere in Africa, Spotify is searching for different collaborators.

“We’re having conversations with the appropriate companions to make sure that we’re offering options to fee issues that a number of African shoppers face in several components of the continent,” Okumu mentioned.


Irene Kophen, a Spotify premium person primarily based in Kenya, mentioned she prefers M-Pesa reasonably than financial institution playing cards as a result of she thinks cellular cash has made music extra accessible.

“Most of us have entry to our telephones, however not many people have playing cards, or financial institution accounts,” the 31-year-old informed Reuters.

Prices related to opening financial institution accounts, the gap to monetary establishments and the issue in assembly “Know Your Clients” necessities due to insufficient proof of tackle have added to the attraction of utilizing telephones to pay.

“The previous few years have seen an emphasis on shifting in the direction of growth of progressive banking companies by cellular expertise to seize decrease revenue segments and the unbanked,” a spokesperson for South Africa’s Absa financial institution mentioned in an emailed assertion.

By 2020, sub-Saharan Africa had 548 million cellular cash accounts, up 12% from 2019 – greater than some other area on the earth, cellular trade physique GSMA mentioned.

That has offered banking entry in a continent the place about 43% of sub-Saharan Africans over the age of 15 had a checking account in 2017, in response to the World Financial institution, which has not offered any more moderen information.


Spotify’s native rivals, comparable to Kenya-based and Danish-listed Mdundo and Nigeria headquartered Boomplay have additionally began to construct ties with cellular operators.

Such partnerships are primarily based on telcom suppliers promoting music bundles that give clients entry to a streaming firm’s premium service and exclusively-curated music mixes.

The collaboration can profit each side by boosting income and serving to to extend subscribers, however for the streaming corporations it’s all-but important.

“It’s crucial that streaming corporations get this proper, in any other case they are going to lose out on income from shoppers who have been prepared, however unable, to pay them,” Charles Stuart, PwC associate and director of Know-how, Media and Telecommunications, mentioned.

For the telecom corporations, which additionally embrace Airtel Nigeria and Vodacom Tanzania, the partnership can assist to attain buyer “loyalty and stickiness” by including worth, Stuart mentioned.

MTN, Africa’s largest cellular operator with 48.9 million energetic cellular cash customers, is integrating its cellular cash service onto its MusicTime app to permit funds, Serigne Dioum, group chief digital and fintech officer of MTN, informed Reuters.

“We’re speaking to gamers who’re music-only gamers and likewise we’re speaking to gamers who’ve broader attain in music, video and gaming and who can place our digital companies a lot better,” MTN’s Dioum mentioned.

Boomplay, which has 60 million month-to-month energetic customers, has allowed customers to pay through cellular platforms comparable to M-Pesa and Tigo-Pesa in Kenya and Tanzania.

It goals to roll out that possibility in Francophone nations, Tosin Sorinola, Boomplay’s director of artiste and media relations, informed Reuters.

Mdundo, which had 8.7 million month-to-month energetic customers as of June, has three telecom partnerships in Nigeria and Tanzania, and expects one or two extra comparable offers earlier than the tip of this yr, Chief Government Officer Martin Nielsen informed Reuters. “Relating to funds throughout Africa our key focus is bundling with telcos… as a result of telcos are those who’ve this attain and entry to individuals’s pockets,” he mentioned.

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