Western Union is often mentioned as a business waiting to be disrupted, but the venerable and profitable money transfer business isn't quite ready to hand over its customers to young fintech-ers. Yesterday it announced a partnership with Terrapay, a Holland-based mobile-first payments network. "TerraPay's low value payments network connects financial instruments internationally," writes the FInancial Post. "The company's interoperability engine enables customers to send and receive transactions across diverse payment instruments and platforms — enabling mobile wallets in international, regional and domestic markets. 'Joining with TerraPay is a great opportunity to further diversify and expand our payment options across the globe, delivering remittances into mobile wallets,' said Sobia Rahman, global head of account payout network for Western Union. " She added that Terrapay will provide a "convenient and automoated channel" for its customers. In principle, TerraPay will make it easy to send money directly to a mobile number and into a wallet on that user's phone.
We've been tracking mobile wallets intensively this year as we develop a major new advisory service for early 2019, and there's something new happening every day, even in the US, which might not seem the most obvious market for mobile wallets. But two of the biggest mobile wallet players [paywall] have teamed up, with Uber announcing it will begin delivering Starbucks coffee. (The Starbucks app famously holds more deposits than many US banks). Uber has trialled the delivery of Starbucks coffee in China in recent months, expanding its offering to 30 cities there, which has convinced both businesses that there is potential in the United States. Starbucks' one-type-of-aggressively-over-roasted-coffee style of production is not for everyone, nor is Uber's aggressive disruption culture, so we will leave it to others to explain why anyone would pay for Starbucks to be delivered. But suffice to say that the Guardian today is an article on new gangs with a mission to "uberise" the production of cocaine with anytime-anywhere instant delivery, although the cocaine gangs do offer dedicated call centres, something not yet on offer from many digitalising businesses.
As it announces a major partnership with MFS Africa to drive interoperability, Ecobank also issues its global forecast for 2019. Global economic growth in 2019 will be driven by the US, China and other resource-intensive Asian economies, according to Ecobank's forecast for Sub-Saharan Africa. The report also highlights the irony that continued political tensions between the US and China will quite likely be a brake on that growth. Visiting Nigeria earlier this year, Lafferty News noted that Chinese traders now sit in African marketplaces alongside the Africans who drive the informal economy, and we've often noted the devotion of Chinese businesses to Africa-centric products and services. This is a major signal in terms of understanding the power of the informal economy — which global initiative around financial inclusion are designed for, while not understanding that banks will be largely be the losers in this digital future. On his blog, Michael Kimani notes: "The coming generation of Africa's informal economy are today's millennial digital natives — hungry, educated, exposed to global trends, with all the tools available to them like everyone else anywhere in the world. Only with no prospects of formal employment on the horizon. 'Informal' is no longer synonymous to the streets, associated with the roadside, automatically defaulting to the marginalized or vulnerable — it is not a disease to recover from. The informal economy is an equal opportunity, organized and commercial operating environment offering Africans the chance to achieve their aspirations. Africa's prosperous future will only be realized by embracing the informal. This is not a choice."
And finally.... This is the final Lafferty News Daily Briefing for 2018! We will return in January 2019, so for now we wish all of you a peaceful holiday season and a prosperous New Year.
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