Somalia’s largest telecommunications provider, Hormuud Telecom, has announced the rollout of the country’s first indigenous mobile money application.
According to a media statement, the Fintech app WAAFI gives Somalis access to a range of digital services across a singular platform for the first time.
Consumers can access bank accounts, perform online transactions, send international remittances and make international/domestic phone calls all from inside the app.
Hormuud says the app is an upgrade from the existing USSD technology that many Somalis use. Currently, USSD-enabled mobile money technology is widespread in Somalia, with penetration rates as high as 80% in urban areas and 55% in rural areas
The app launches as Hormuud continues the expansion of its digital infrastructure across Somalia.
The telco estimates that around 50% of urban populations in Somalia currently have access to 4G data while slightly over 60% have access to 3G, both of which are considered broadband-level service within frontier economies.
In launching WAAFI, Hormuud aims to recreate the success mobile platforms have seen in neighbouring countries. It also hopes the app will serve as an enabler for new value chains and business models.
“A first in Somalia, WAAFI also enables people to make in-country bank transfers via their phone. This supports Somalia’s goal to become a truly cashless economy and helps combat fraud – it is currently estimated that over 95% of the Somali shilling in circulation is counterfeit,” the company adds.
Speaking on the announcement, Hormuud CEO and Chairman Ahmed Mohammed Yuusuf said: “Somalia is a unique example of a country where digital adoption is widespread among all age ranges and demographics. We are continuing to see a move towards a position where Somalia can claim to be the world’s first truly cashless economy, and the roll out of WAAFI is an important step on that journey. Providing businesses and customers with more efficient technology is going to be a driving force behind the development of the Somali economy and its integration with the wider international community.”
WAAFI allows users to access their bank account through deposits and withdrawals via their EVC Plus wallet. Through this, businesses can generate ‘QR codes’ that allow customers to directly credit businesses bank accounts.
In February 2021, the Central Bank of Somalia issued the first mobile money licence to Hormuud Telecom, meaning that its mobile money platform EVC Plus is now formally regulated and licensed by the Central Bank. There are 3.6 million Hormuud Telecom subscribers within Somalia. Out of this 3.6 million, 3 million are EVC Plus users.