One of the greatest profitable accidents of the last twenty years was SMS messaging that delivered telecoms companies huge revenues for a service that cost them almost nothing.
In Somalia, we may be seeing phone companies leading the way in cashless transactions as the economy moves towards mobile payments on the back of service intended by one of the nation’s leading cellphone providers for a completely different purpose.
The Hormuud Telecommunication Company set up EVCPlus to deal with account payments but in an unstable and risky economy the service has proved an efficient way to deal with daily transactions
“It’s not safe to carry cash money here,” said Dhublawe Ibrahim Aden, 25, a hawker who sells shoes and clothes. “If someone has to buy my shoes and bungles [necklaces] then he has to pay me through my cellphone. I don’t accept cash money from clients.”
Like Kenya’s M-PESA, EVCPlus is showing how slower and more basic connections aren’t a barrier to African economies leading the world in some online services. Sometimes having access to basic services isn’t an impediment.