The future of telcos: focus on Africa and China

09/10/2019 Dynamic and complex by nature, mobile financial services are delivering innovation and life-changing opportunities around the world.

Whether it’s enabling a cashless economy in China or connecting ‘unbanked’ people to services for the first time across Africa, devices and software are helping usher in new, improved financial experiences.

In our recent study, ‘Future of Telcos: winning the client experience battle’, we published the Mazars Mobile Payments Index – analysing 17 markets to reveal where in the world mobile financial services opportunities are the greatest.

China topped the survey, while Kenya and Ivory Coast both landed in the top 10.


In China, where mobile payments have seen a tenfold increase since 2012, the so-called ‘future’ customer experience is already here: seamless payments made possible by facial recognition, AI-powered product recommendation and sophisticated social network integration.

Meanwhile, Kenya and Ivory Coast – the former being the home of money transfer service and global success story M-Pesa – continue to earn their strong reputations as global leaders in mobile financial services.

When asked why African countries performed well in the Index, Mazars Partner and Head of African Banking Platform Zied Loukil said, “There is immense consumer appetite. In 2017 there were 390 million people who were still unbanked in Africa… By contrast, the penetration rate of mobile phones has skyrocketed over the last decade – sometimes exceeding 100%.”

Connecting people to services that make their lives better also lies behind China’s strong Index performance. Liwen Zhang, Partner at Mazars China, explains, “It can be quite surprising for foreign travellers [how] people now use WeChat Pay or Alipay to pay for basically everything, from electricity and phone bills to small daily expenses like subway tickets.”


The jump from cash to apps in China was made possible by the country’s technology and financial companies, which have made sophisticated services easily accessible to a consumer base that is eager to experiment. “[China] is the ideal lab to design and test new services,” adds Zhang. “Consumers are open to novel experiences and confident that their data will be used responsibly. For instance, Alipay has launched a test of its ‘smile-to-pay’ technology in partnership with KFC.”

Seamless experiences worldwide

That dedication to the customer experience is also seen across Africa, where telcos are shaping social and economic progress, says Loukil. “More accessible banking reaches far beyond financial services and towards helping solve some of our most pressing issues. In some geographically challenged areas, where infrastructure is lacking, people might get easier access to education or healthcare… students could attend courses via video-conferencing [and] patients could consult a specialist remotely.”

From healthcare to everyday expenses, mobile financial services are unlocking seamless experiences worldwide. To find out more about these experiences, and for our Mazars Mobile Payments Index, download ‘The Future of Telcos’ below.