Michael Joseph appointed to board of SA fintech company


Former Safaricom chief executive Michael Joseph. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Former Safaricom #ticker:SCOM chief executive Michael Joseph has joined the board of South African financial technology firm MFS Africa as an independent non-executive director.

MFS Africa on Wednesday said Mr Joseph will help it strengthen relationships with mobile network operators, money transfer organisations, banks and other financial institutions across Africa.

“He will engage with regulators, development organisations, and other relevant stakeholders to advocate an open and inclusive cross-border digital payments infrastructure. Michael’s role will also extend to corporate governance and the strategic direction of the company,” it said in a statement.

The Johannesburg-based MFS Africa says its mobile financial services hub is now connected to 120 million mobile wallets in sub-Saharan Africa.

The company, set up by former MTN executive Dare Okoudjou, says it has partnerships with a number of mobile operators including Airtel, Econet, MTN, Orange, Millicom’s Tigo and Vodafone.

Mr Okoudjou said the firm would bank on Mr Joseph’s experience to steer the company to continental growth.

“Michael’s the father of mobile money. His experience in making M-Pesa a near-ubiquitous service in Kenya and in many other Vodafone markets has helped create a rich ecosystem, rapidly and at scale, which will be invaluable to MFS Africa’s growth,” said Mr Okoudjou.

“Taking the lessons learned from M-Pesa and applying them across the entire region will help us achieve our mission: scaling mobile financial services so they serve the millions of un- and under- banked people across Africa.”

Mr Joseph welcomed his new role while highlighting the opportunities in digital innovations.

“There are over a billion mobile phone users in Africa and only one in ten are using mobile financial services. Despite the success of in-country schemes, consumers are increasingly demanding further ways to transact across networks and across borders,” he said.

“If we’re to create the “network effect” needed to drive financial inclusion and build a strong digital economy across the continent, new solutions need to be found.”

Mr Joseph was this year elected as chairman of troubled carrier Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ, adding to his board memberships.

He is credited with having grown Safaricom from a nondescript unit of a former State corporation to the region’s most profitable company, impacting the lives of millions of Kenyans.