BD Insider 227: Why Cellulant exited the Nigerian mobile money market

Inside: Cellulant exits Nigerian mobile money market and Uber's statement on its data sharing agreement with Lagos.

BD Insider 227: Why Cellulant exited the Nigerian mobile money market
Tingg by Cellulant

In the last letter, we covered Ethiopia's Commercial Bank (CBE)'s plan to recoup funds lost due to a technical glitch. This glitch allowed users, particularly students, to withdraw more money than they had in their accounts.

Fortunately, there's positive news! As of last week, CBE reportedly retrieved over 80% of the missing funds after publishing the names of those involved.

In this letter, we explore:

  • The revocation of Cellulant's mobile money license in Nigeria
  • Uber's statement on its data sharing agreement with Lagos.
  • Netflix's revised subscription prices in Nigeria

We also curated updates on the state of funding in Africa, other noteworthy information, and several opportunities.

The Big Three!

#1. Cellulant exits Nigerian mobile money market

The news: Cellulant Nigeria, a subsidiary of Cellulant Corporation, had its mobile money license revoked by the Central Bank of Nigeria in December 2023. Cellulant clarifies that the revocation wasn't due to any regulatory issues but because of its shift away from the mobile money market.

The fintech startup has since acquired a Payment Solution Service Provider (PSSP) licence from the CBN. Under its PSSP license, Cellulant can no longer hold customer funds directly. This differs from their previous licence as a mobile money operator.

In Nigeria, a PSSP license allows fintech startups to provide payment processing gateways/portals, payment solutions/applications development and merchant service aggregation/collection.

Cellulant has acquired a similar licence in Kenya, Ghana and Tanzania.

Know more: In 2021, Cellulant rebranded its product Tingg. Originally designed for everyday transactions like airtime top-ups, utility bill payments, and satellite TV subscriptions, Tingg transitioned into a digital payment platform that enables businesses and their consumers to accept and make payments.

"The SMBs (small and medium businesses) still handle a lot of cash today as it is and there is a big opportunity [there] as we see it. There is now an urgency for businesses to start accepting payments digitally," says Ibrahim Aminu, Cellulant's Nigeria country manager.

Instore, Tingg's proximity payment solution, saw a 200% growth in just six months last year. As of July 2023, Tingg was used in the country by 400 stores for digital payments. Some notable examples include GIG Logistics, Perfect Trust Cosmetics, Simba Group, and Chicken Republic.

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#2. Uber agrees to share data with Lagos state authorities

What we know: Last month, we reported that Lagos, Nigeria's commercial and tech hub accused global ride-hailing giant Uber of breaching a 2020 data-sharing agreement. At the time, the state government, under former commissioner Frederic Oladeinde, said it needed "trip movement data" for calculating government levies, emphasizing they weren't after users' details.

In the past, Uber has challenged data requests deemed excessive or involving sensitive information.

Following the recent crackdown on its drivers within Lagos by local authorities, Uber has assured it will comply with regulations. "The signed agreement includes a commitment to share aggregated trip data daily via a secure folder solution, which we have been doing consistently as we work towards API integration," Tope Akinwumi, Uber's country manager in Nigeria told via an email.

According to Oluwaseun Osiyemi, the state's transportation commissioner, the API integration is crucial for a safe and well-regulated transportation system, benefiting all residents.

"Nigeria is an important market to us and over the past ten years, we have played our part to provide a platform for thousands of drivers to earn a flexible income while offering riders a convenient and safe mobility experience," Akinwumi added.

Related Article: Uber makes first African investment in Moove's $100 million Series B

#3. Netflix hikes subscription prices in Nigeria

The news: Netflix prices are going up in Nigeria. Starting today, the premium plan with 4K + HDR and downloads on six devices jumps to ₦5000. The standard plan also sees a bump, going from ₦3600 to ₦4000. While the basic plan stays put at ₦2,900, the price for the mobile plan has also been increased.

Since October last year, Netflix has been revising its subscription prices globally. The streaming platform also ended its free plan in Kenya which ran for two years.

"As we invest in and improve Netflix, we’ll occasionally ask our members to pay a little extra to reflect those improvements, which in turn helps drive the positive flywheel of additional investment to further improve and grow our service," the company said.

Since 2016, Netflix says it has invested about $175 million in film content production in sub-Saharan Africa, creating over 10,000 jobs within this period. Netflix holds the number two spot among streaming platforms in Africa, with an estimated 1.8 million subscribers by the end of November 2023; that's about 33.5% of the market share.

💰 State of Funding in Africa

Last week, cleantech VC firm Satgana announced the final close of its €8 million ($8.6 million) fund to back early-stage startups in Africa and Europe. Satgana's cheque size is about $325,000, the firm has invested in African startups like Amini, Mazi Mobility, Kubik and Revivo.

Meanwhile, here's a summary of how African startups raised VC funding the last week:

  • Dodai, an Ethiopian e-mobility startup has secured a $4 million Series A funding from Nissay Capital, Musashi Seimitsu, and Inclusion Japan.
  • BasiGo, another e-mobility startup based in Kenya, has raised $3 million in equity funding. The financing was given by CFAO Group, shared between its Kenyan branch and corporate venture capital subsidiary, Mobility54.
  • Egyptian AI-focused edtech startup closed a $3 million bridge fundraising round led by Disruptech Ventures, with EdVentures, CFYE, and others joining the investment.
  • Right Now Response, a South African breakdown management platform for truck fleet managers and OEMs raised $634k from HAVAIC. 

📚 Noteworthy

Here are other important stories in the media:

  • This hacked Twitter user turned ethical hacker now recovers social media accounts: After his Twitter account fell victim to a hack 13 years ago, Amama Benn turned the tables. He mastered ethical hacking and now helps social media users to reclaim their stolen accounts.
  • Building Africa's undersized EV infrastructure, a battery at a time: Erik Nygard, founder and CEO of Accra-based Kofa, an e-bike startup, insights into alternative ways to support the continent's electric mobility transition.
  • Success beyond exits: Alternative paths for African startups: In the latest edition of The Investors' Corner, Davidson Oturu dives into Nubia Capital's unique investment approach, shares his vision for Africa's booming fintech future, and how startups can achieve success beyond traditional exits.
  • FTX founder sentenced to 25 years in prison: Last week, Sam Bankman-Fried was sentenced to 25 years in prison for stealing $8 billion from customers of the now-bankrupt FTX cryptocurrency exchange he founded.
  • LetsChat shuts down in Africa: TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, has shut down its instant messaging app, LetsChat in Africa.

💼 Opportunities


We carefully curate open opportunities in Product & Design, Data & Engineering, and Admin & Growth every week.

Product & Design

Data & Engineering

Admin & Growth

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