As more smart financial technology initiatives continue to explore the Gambian business market, one of the latest groups making great strides, changing the narrative, is Wave Gambia, an affiliate of Wave International, making business more user-friendly and accessible through digital payments.
After gaining its license from the country’s Central Bank (CBG) last year, the group rolled out its operations targeting Gambians both at home and abroad as it established itself as one of the most trusted financial institutions in the country.
Wave is now a household name in the Fintech sector, but its rise has not gone down well with some key players in the industry who see the new group as a threat to their survival as the initiative brings highly innovative financial deals, winning the trust and confidence of many clients and Money transaction bureaus.
Wave’s Mobile money is used chiefly by low-income earners, who in most cases don’t have access to mainstream financial institutions, and this has effectively bridged the gap between the rural poor and urban rich.
“In 2017, over half the population in Sub-Saharan Africa had no bank account. And that’s for a good reason, amid high fees and distant branches miles away in urban centers where rural folk had to journey to make the most straightforward transactions. Without access to financial institutions, people kept their savings under the mattress, and small business owners relied on micro schemes and lenders who charged exorbitant rates. Parents spent hours waiting in line to pay school fees in cash. All that is now history as Wave transforms the market into a level playing field, enabling the remotest settlements to engage in the cashless industry.
“They are solving this by building financial services that work: no account fees, instantly available, and accepted everywhere. You can still send money with Wave in places where electricity, water, and roads don’t always work. In November 2017, Wave launched a mobile app in Senegal for cash deposit, withdrawal, and peer-to-peer and business payments. In 2019, we expanded to Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Benin, and Togo.
“Now, Wave has millions of users and is growing fast. Their goal is to make Africa the first cashless continent. And that’s where Wave comes in, offering instant and affordable financial services,” the group said on its website.
According to research by TAT, Wave Gambia employs more than 200 Gambians, with many serving as marketers in almost all parts of the country. A Fintech boom is driving intense competition in a crucial money market.
“Wave has been doing free cash power sales on their app, and this did not go down well with some of their competitors, but ordinary Gambians love their service,’ a customer, Alieu Ceesay, told TAT.
The US-based company is making considerable gains in the country despite the challenges posed by Money transfer organizations, otherwise called MTOs, Bureaus, and telecommunication companies in The Gambia.
Wave’s recent success could not be more convenient for some key players in the sector, with the competitive calling for people to stop doing business with Wave.
“These actions will only legitimize those MTOs who are fighting for monopoly in the business,” Fabakary Touray, a well-known Wave dealer, told TAT.
Meanwhile, As the debate on Wave intensifies online, one economist and former minister, Momodou Sabally, posted: “And now this new thing? I like and respect their brand placement. Yet I am getting a lot of questions about their modus operandi and impact. So we will be looking at this issue,” Sabally said while generating feedback on Wave.
The rise of Wave in the region has vastly opened the mobile money environment, fuelling healthy competition among key players in the growing fintech sector.