BlackBerry has been on the African continent for quite some time. At some point, at the height of its success, its BlackBerry smartphones were synonymous with both class and status on the continent and as a result, became highly favoured in two of the continent’s biggest economies, Nigeria and South Africa. While the tide has changed and things are very different today, the two markets are still BlackBerry’s largest on the continent and some of its highly treasured in the world.
Thanks to the high cost of sending SMS in the two countries previously, its instant messaging service, BBM, grew in popularity and it still remains popular. A lot of that is attributed to the fact that BlackBerry finally saw the light and made BlackBerry Messenger cross-platform, availing on Android and iOS, the two biggest mobile platforms in the world. Smartphones from the leading mobile brands on the continent like Tecno arrive with the BBM application preloaded while others from the likes of Samsung have access to it from the Samsung app store alongside availability in the universal Google Play Store. Thanks to that, BBM has been able to register over 22 million users with more than 17,000 signing up for the service daily. Here is a quick breakdown of the numbers:
As can be seen from the above numbers, BBM users in Africa have been very receptive of the idea to visit the BBM shop and purchase the more than 25 specialized stickers that BlackBerry has developed for the African user. According to Matthew Talbot, the Senior Vice President for Emerging Solutions at BlackBerry, the BBM Shop registers over 20 million views monthly and thanks to it, 60 million stickers have been sent and received. Taking cues from this, the company believes that the time has come to introduce BBM Payments, a mobile payments service that simplifies making payments and makes it akin to sending a sticker on BBM or sharing a photo with a contact.
BBM Payment is expected to debut in Nigeria and thereafter make its way to South Africa.
In Nigeria, BlackBerry will be partnering with Interswitch, a payments processor, to enable users to transfer money to their contacts or buy airtime for their phones. Other partners including banks will also be brought on board.
BlackBerry introduced a similar service, BBM Money, to BBM users in Canada using PayPal. BBM Money is also available in Indonesia, one of BlackBerry’s biggest markets globally, allowing BBM users to pay for goods and services right from the application in real-time.
It is not yet clear at this point if BlackBerry intends to introduce its mobile payments service, which uses BBM as a platform, in other African countries.