Bitcoin’s Big Opportunity In Africa

On a Tuesday night at a Nairobi tech incubator, Michael Kimani preaches the virtues of crypto currencies to a small gathering of tech-savvy Kenyans.

The startups at the meeting are already busy building businesses—to disrupt Kenya’s large remittances market; or create Kenya’s first bitcoin exchange; or establish a crypto-wallet app as the on-campus currency of nearby Kenyatta University.

While global entrepreneurs and investors have been cautiously eying the potential of bitcoin in Africa, a more aggressive homegrown breed of African startups is already experimenting in Kenya, East Africa’s powerhouse economy. There are the same problems with criminal use of bitcoin—this month, hackers reportedly demanded a ransom of bitcoins from a major Kenyan bank—but also an unusually big market hungry for an easier way to move money. Read more

WhatsApp Exponential growth with 700m users sending 30bn daily messages

Facebook-owned messaging app added 300m active users in 2014, as it prepares to introduce voice calls in 2015

Smartphone messaging app WhatsApp has reached a new milestone: 700 million monthly active users, who are sending 30 billion messages every day.

Chief executive Jan Koum published the figures as a status update on Facebook, the company that bought his startup for $22bn for his startup in October 2014.

“Today, we’re thrilled to share that WhatsApp has more than 700 million monthly active users. Additionally, every day our users now send over 30 billion messages,” wrote Koum.

“As humbled and excited as we are by these numbers and our continued growth, we’re even more excited to keep building a great product in 2015.”

WhatsApp’s rapid growth has thus continued since its acquisition by Facebook, which announced the then-$19bn deal in February 2014, before completing it at the higher price in October due to the inclusion of Facebook shares that had risen in value in the intervening months.

WhatsApp’s last public milestone was 600 million active users in August 2014 Read more

2 Billion Consumers Worldwide to Get Smart(phones) by 2016

The number of smartphone users worldwide will surpass 2 billion in 2016, according to new figures from eMarketer—after nearly getting there in 2015. Next year, there will be over 1.91 billion smartphone users across the globe, a figure that will increase another 12.6% to near 2.16 billion in 2016.

For the first time, more than one-quarter of the global population will use smartphones in 2015, and by 2018, eMarketer estimates, over one-third of consumers worldwide, or more than 2.56 billion people, will do so. That 2018 figure also represents over half—51.7%—of all mobile phone users, meaning that feature phones will have finally become a minority in the telecommunications world.

Inexpensive smartphones are opening new opportunities for marketing and commerce in emerging markets where many consumers previously had no access to the internet. Meanwhile, in mature, established markets, smartphones are quickly shifting the paradigm for consumer media usage and impressing the need for marketers to become more mobile-centric. Read more

Africa’s five fastest-growing technology companies

The Deloitte Technology Fast50 Africa initiative is an award that recognises the continent’s fastest-growing technology companies in terms of revenue. David Mwanambuyu looks at 2014’s top five winners. Read more