Profit-making idea: Identity authentication in Africa

How we made it in Africa asked Dare Okoudjou, CEO of MFS Africa – a pan-African fintech company that connects mobile money systems to each other and to money transfer organisations, banks and other financial institutions – to single out one untapped business opportunity in Africa. Here was his response.

“There is a huge opportunity in identity and authentication in Africa. Many Africans have historically lacked ID numbers or other forms of formal identification, yet now all aspects of daily life are converging to mobile. People are accessing services and curating a digital identity through their phones, and this trend is already particularly strong in financial services where many use mobile wallets.

“At MFS Africa, we have built a continent-wide payments solution. From this position, we’ve developed an understanding of the technical infrastructure required to make mobile payments work across a range of scenarios. Identity underpins so much of what people do in their business and daily lives, and a more robust authentication system would enable mobile payments and other alternative forms of financial services to reach an even wider range of the population.

“There is an opportunity here to give many more people a formal identification that they can use for procuring services from businesses and interacting with the public sector. You need to know who the person is behind the phone number. I’m excited to see how the entrepreneurs and creators of the continent take on this challenge in the coming years.”