At the Africa Tech Festival held two weeks ago in Cape Town, Digital Virgo announced that through its customized payment platform, it offered more than 25 million Africans access to digital content and services in 2022.
The company, which defines itself as a ‘global specialist in payment through the accounts of telecom operators and mobile money’, has a presence in 15 countries in Africa and is in the process of increasing partnerships with leading merchants on the continent.
TechCabal caught up with the CEO of Digital Virgo, Guillaume Barishaat the event and talked about a variety of topics, including the company’s appeal in Africa, its ambitions for the continent and the challenges it faced in its operations.
Please tell us more about Digital Virgin
Digital Virgin’s mission is to give everyone access to digital services and content by allowing them to pay for these through mobile payment through telecom operators’ billing solutions.
There are 8 billion people in the world and most of them have access to a mobile phone and SIM card. However, less than 20% of people own credit cards. So what we do is connect users to merchants that offer digital services and content and allow those users to pay merchants for access to those services.
What presence does Digital Virgo have in Africa?
Our presence on the continent is strategic. Currently, the Digital Virgo Group does 430 million euros in annual turnover and more than 20% of this comes from our operations in Africa.
This means that almost 100 million euros of our turnover comes from the continent where we have a presence in 15 countries, 10 offices and 300 people working with our customers.
We have been on the continent since our formation in 2008. We started in North Africa in Morocco and then in sub-Saharan Africa where we initially launched in Ghana and South Africa. After that we continued to grow in the continent both organically and through mergers and acquisitions.
What challenges did you face in your activity in Africa?
The main challenge we faced was trying to link our African operations with our global strategy, because the continent is very diverse. For example, doing business in Morocco, for example, is very different from doing business in South Africa.
Another problem would be instability in certain markets in which we operate, but on the positive side, these markets are a very valuable asset for us and we have managed to function so that all these challenges in our operating environments.
What unique opportunities would you say are available in Africa for a company like Digital Virgo?
The main opportunity is that Africa is very dynamic and things move fast, which presents a lot of opportunities for our type of business model. For example, currently, wallets and mobile money are quite popular in the continent, which presents us with opportunities to diversify our payment methods.
The size of the market in Africa also presents opportunities for expansion. That is, we are currently in about 15 countries and we would like to add even more because the demand for access to premium content on the continent is high.
Are there any exciting projects you have coming up that you would like to share with our readers?
We have some exciting developments, yes. First, our client Garena brings their “Free Fire” game to users here who will have the ability to play it through carrier billing. Free Fire is one of the most popular mobile games in the world with over 150 million daily users.
In video, we currently provide video-to-video solutions, which we plan to enrich and deploy across our many markets on the continent. We also invest a lot in producing local content.
Another area in which we are making progress is eSport where we sponsor tournaments and teams in several countries on the continent such as Egypt.